Bevilacqua Remembered by Churchgoers, Chaput

Philadelphia Inquirer
February 1, 2012

Studentsfrom Hallahan Catholic Girls High School walk past the Cathedral Basilica…

The faithful flowed in as they do each day for daily masses at Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Center City.

The death of Cardinal Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua, 88, was news to some this morning, and continued to reverberate through the Roman Catholic community throughout the day.

Funeral arrangements are still pending.

One woman clutched her chest upon hearing the news of Bevilacqua's passing. "I'm really surprised," she said as she hurried into the side chapel where the 7:15 a.m. mass was held.

Msgr. Arthur E. Rodgers asked the twenty in attendance at to remember and pray for Bevilacqua.

Edward Butler, 71, who attends daily, said that although he met the cardinal only once, he was impressed. Some years ago, Bevilacqua had been at Lankenau Medical Center visiting a sick priest, recalled Butler, who taught history at a Catholic school for 40 years. Butler was there to pick up his brother, who had been ill.

"I spoke to him for about ten minutes," Butler said of his conversation. "He was very nice and polite. I just asked him questions about what it's like to be a cardinal."

Jim Hennelly, 79, who lives in Center City, had more mixed emotions.

"It's a good thing he was retired," Hennelly said, in reference to the allegations of sex abuse within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Two priests and a former priest are set to go on trial for allegedly sexually abusing children, or failing to stop it. Prosecutors from the District Attorney's Office in Philadelphia were ready to call Bevilacqua, who suffered from dementia, to testify.

"He did make mistakes, a lot of mistakes," Hennelly said. "I'm really angry at the way the church handled this."

Albert Wellstein, 56, lamented the scandal, but stood by Bevilacqua as a good person. Wellstein met the cardinal through his support of Boy Scouts.

"We're all very saddened to hear the news," Wellstein said. "He had a compassion for the poor. . . . He was a very dynamic, organized, intelligent man.

"His influence was felt, and he was an inspiration to us all."

By noon, and shortly before the start of another mass at the cathedral, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput issued a statement saying he, "was greatly saddened to learn of the death of my predecessor Cardinal Bevilacqua.








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