Anthony Bevilacqua

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Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua
Cardinal, Archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia
AppointedDecember 8, 1987
InstalledFebruary 11, 1988
Term endedJuly 15, 2003
PredecessorJohn Krol
SuccessorJustin Francis Rigali
Other postsCardinal-Priest of Santissimo Redentore e Sant'Alfonso in Via Merulan
OrdinationJune 11, 1949
by Thomas Edmund Molloy
ConsecrationNovember 24, 1980
by Francis Mugavero
Created cardinalJune 28, 1991
by John Paul II
Personal details
Born(1923-06-17)June 17, 1923
Brooklyn, New York
DiedJanuary 31, 2012(2012-01-31) (aged 88)
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
DenominationRoman Catholic Church
Previous post
Coat of armsAnthony Joseph Bevilacqua's coat of arms
Styles of
Anthony Bevilacqua
Coat of arms of Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeePhiladelphia (emeritus)

Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua (June 17, 1923 – January 31, 2012) was an American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Philadelphia from 1988 to 2003, having previously served as Bishop of Pittsburgh. He was created a cardinal in 1991.


Early life and education[edit]

Bevilacqua was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Luigi (1884–1961) and Maria (née Codella, 1893–1968) Bevilacqua, who were Italian immigrants.[1] One of eleven children, he had four brothers, Michael, Angelo, Rocco, and Frank; and six sisters, Josephine (died of meningitis at age 2), Isabella, Virginia, Mary Jo, Gloria, and Madeline.[2] Bevilacqua's father was born in Spinazzola and worked as a bricklayer, and his mother was born in Calitri.[2] Luigi immigrated to the United States in 1910, and was soon followed by his wife and oldest son, Michael. The family lived in New Rochelle; Hartford, Connecticut; and Brooklyn before settling in Woodhaven, Queens, where Luigi operated a hair dying shop and shoe shine shop.[2]

Bevilacqua attended Public School No. 60, St. Thomas the Apostle School,[3] and Richmond Hill High School. He then studied at Cathedral College, where he won prizes in mathematics and science and earned a trip to Washington, D.C. for an essay on the Immaculate Conception.[2] He graduated from Cathedral College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1943, and then entered the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington.[4]

Ordination and ministry[edit]

Ordination history of
Anthony Bevilacqua
Priestly ordination
Ordained byThomas Edmund Molloy
DateJune 11, 1949
PlaceCathedral Basilica of St. James, Brooklyn, New York
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorFrancis Mugavero
Co-consecratorsJohn J. Snyder,
Charles Richard Mulrooney
DateNovember 24, 1980
PlaceBasilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Brooklyn, New York
Elevated byPope John Paul II
DateJune 28, 1991
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Anthony Bevilacqua as principal consecrator
Nicholas C. DattiloJanuary 26, 1990
Edward CullenApril 14, 1994
Robert P. MaginnisMarch 11, 1996
Joseph MartinoMarch 11, 1996
Michael Francis BurbidgeSeptember 5, 2002

Bevilacqua was ordained to the priesthood on June 11, 1949, at St. James Cathedral. He then served as an associate pastor at the Sacred Heart Church, St. Stephen Church (Brooklyn), and St. Mary Church (Long Island) until 1950.[2] He taught at his alma mater of Cathedral College from 1950 to 1954, and then furthered his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, from where he obtained a doctorate in canon law summa cum laude in 1956.[4]

Upon his return to the United States, Bevilacqua served as an official in the diocesan tribunal and as a chaplain to the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood.[2] He earned a Master's degree in political science from Columbia University in 1962, and was named vice-chancellor for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1965.[4] From 1968 to 1980, Bevilacqua was a visiting professor of canon law at Immaculate Conception Seminary.[4] During this time, he also founded the Diocesan Office for Migration and Refugees in 1971. He earned a law degree from St. John's University in 1975.[4] He was entitled to practice law in the courts of New York and Pennsylvania. He was also granted entry to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, though he never did.[4]

Bevilacqua was raised to the rank of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness on January 23, 1976; he became chancellor of the Diocese that year as well.[1] From 1977 to 1980, he taught immigration law as an adjunct professor at St. John's University School of Law.[4]

Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn[edit]

On October 7, 1980, Bevilacqua was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, and Titular Bishop of Aquae Albae in Byzacena by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following November 24 from Bishop Francis Mugavero, with Bishops John J. Snyder and Charles Richard Mulrooney serving as co-consecrators, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He selected as his episcopal motto: Ecclesia Mater Nostra, meaning, "The Church, our Mother."[5] As an auxiliary to Bishop Mugavero, Bevilacqua continued to serve as diocesan chancellor and director of the Office for Migrants and Refugees.[citation needed]

In 1983, Detroit Sister of Mercy Agnes Mary Mansour, who administered Michigan's Medicaid program in her position as the director of Michigan Department of Social Services, was directed by Detroit Archbishop Edmund Szoka to declare her opposition to public financing of abortion.[6] When Mansour refused, Bevilacqua was appointed by the Vatican to demand that she immediately resign either her religious vows or her position as Director of Social Services.[7] Mansour chose to sign the papers Bevilacqua had provided to request dispensation from her perpetual vows, leaving her religious order.[7]

Bishop of Pittsburgh[edit]

Bevilacqua was later named the tenth Bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 7, 1983. He succeeded Vincent Leonard, and was installed as Bishop on December 12 of that year.

Archbishop of Philadelphia[edit]

John Paul II appointed Bevilacqua Archbishop of Philadelphia on December 8, 1987. He succeeded Cardinal John Krol, and was installed on February 11, 1988. John Paul II created him Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Redentore e S. Alfonso in Via Merulana in the consistory of June 28, 1991.

During a fifteen-year stewardship of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bevilacqua is remembered for his frequent visits to churches in the diocese, his knowledge of fiscal matters, his conservatism, and his closing of schools (such as Saint James in Chester). Organizationally he divided the Archdiocese into six vicariates, each with a general vicariate, and subdivided the central administration into six secretariats. From 1995 to 2000, he hosted a live weekly radio call-in program, Live with Cardinal Bevilacqua, which aired on WZZD-AM in Philadelphia. In 2002, he was named to the PoliticsPA "Power 50" list of politically influential personalities.[8]

Within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bevilacqua served as chairman of the Committee on Migration from 1983 to 1984, during which time he visited the refugee camps of Southeast Asia and Africa. He also chaired the Committee for Canonical Affairs (1981–1984) and the Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Allegations of shielding pedophiles[edit]

In 2003 and 2004, Bevilacqua testified 10 times before grand juries regarded accusations that he had protected and shielded priests accused of molesting children. A final grand jury report said it had no doubt that the cardinal knew about the danger posed by the accused priests and that his actions endangered thousands of children in the archdiocese.

In 2012, a document was discovered showing that Cardinal Bevilacqua had ordered Monsignor James Molloy, now deceased, who served in the Office of the Vicar to Cardinal Bevilacqua until 1994, to destroy a list of 35 abusive priests. Monsignor William Lynn was accused of covering up cases of abuse by archdiocesan priests, having at the time been the highest U.S. Catholic Church official to face criminal charges.[9][10]

During the trial of Monsignor Lynn, on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 (), it was revealed that Monsignor Michael Picard, a local Pastor (St. Andrew Church, Newtown, Pennsylvania), was punished by Cardinal Bevilacqua, who did not tolerate even the appearance of dissent from his priests. He was not, strictly speaking, canonically censored. He did not have any of his priestly faculties removed or changed; he was not suspended, removed from the priesthood, or laicized; and was not excommunicated or interdicted. He is now a priest in good standing and was finally named a monsignor much later than usual in 2010. He was ordered to apologize and spend two weeks on a contemplative retreat for raising concerns about a priest assigned to his parish. He viewed what he did as simply questioning orders, not outright disobedience. The priest was transferred to another parish in 1996. The Archdiocese said it had received no complaints about his work in 15 years of service to 3 parishes. In 2005, the priest rejected by Monsignor Picard was accused of having sexually assaulted a minor in 1982. That priest died in 2006.[11]

On August 14, 2018, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a grand jury report detailing sex abuse in six Pennsylvania Diocese, including Pittsburgh. The report showed a 1985 memo written by that Bevilacqua where he rejected a request to reassign Father Joseph D. Karabin after two children told the Diocese he had sexually molested them.[12] The diocese report against Karabin was never reported to the police.[12] The same year, Bevilacqua sent a written request to reassign Father John O'Connor to the Diocese of Camden in New Jersey after it was reported that he molested a 14-year old boy during two sleepovers.[13] O'Connor was arrested before the transfer could take place, but never saw trial after agreeing to undergo rehabilitation therapy at Southdown Institute, a clinic near Toronto run by the Canadian Catholic Bishops Conference.[13] After leaving Southtown, O'Connor was reassigned by Bevilacqua to serve as a hospital chaplain.[13]

Retirement and death[edit]

Upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 in June 1998, Bevilacqua submitted his letter of resignation to John Paul II, who allowed the Cardinal to continue in his post. He lost the right to participate in a papal conclave when he reached the age of 80 in June 2003. His resignation was later accepted by the Pope on July 15 of that year, and he served as Apostolic Administrator of Philadelphia until the installation of his successor, Justin Francis Rigali, on October 7, 2003.

In retirement, Cardinal Bevilacqua lived at his home on the grounds of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood. In February, 2011 it was reported that Cardinal Bevilacqua was suffering from cancer and dementia.[14]

In November, 2011, Cardinal Bevilacqua gave a seven-hour deposition in a sealed hearing on the subject of the sexual abuse scandal in the archdiocese. His testimony was videotaped.[15]

Cardinal Bevilacqua died on January 31, 2012, at age 88 in his home in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.[16]


  1. ^ a b "BEVILACQUA, Anthony Joseph". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "BEVILACQUA Card. Anthony Joseph". Holy See. Archived from the original on 2014-09-09.
  3. ^ Busetti, Linda (2007-02-10). "St. Thomas Apostole School Marks Its 90th Year". The Tablet.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Archived from the original on 2007-10-27.
  5. ^ "Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua". Quotes of the Ordinaries of Philadelphia. Archived from the original on 2013-02-22.
  6. ^ "The Nun vs. the Archbishop". Time magazine. 1983-03-21.
  7. ^ a b "Obey or Leave". Time magazine. 1983-05-23.
  8. ^ "Sy Snyder's Power 50". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-04-21.
  9. ^ Attorneys: Cardinal ordered memo on priests destroyed
  10. ^ Maryclaire Dale (2012-07-24). "Pa. monsignor gets 3-6 years in sex abuse cover-up - Yahoo! News". Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  11. ^ "Evidence: Pa. pastor punished for raising concerns". Fox News. May 2, 2012.
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^ "Grand-jury report on abuse targets priests, teacher, even a cardinal". 2011-02-11. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  15. ^ Bevilacqua also facing a verdict; Even after his death, he has been a key figure in the trial. The outcome could shape his legacy, John P. Martin Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 June 2012
  16. ^ CBS Philadelphia article about death of Bevilacqua Retrieved 2012-02-01 UTC


  • Glenn, Francis A. (1993). Shepherds of the Faith 1843-1993: A Brief History of the Bishops of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh: Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Krol
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Succeeded by
Justin Rigali
Preceded by
Vincent Martin Leonard
Bishop of Pittsburgh
Succeeded by
Donald Wuerl
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn
Succeeded by