Suspicion surrounding the death of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, former Archbishop of Philadelphia, has been laid to rest. He died of natural causes Jan. 31 at St. Charles Seminary in Wynnewood, according to Montgomery County Coroner Walter I. Hofman.
“Elderly people with pre-existent natural disease often die quite suddenly,” Hofman said March 8 at press conference at his office in Norristown.
Cardinal Bevilacqua, 88, had been living at the seminary since his retirement in 2003.
Hofman said the Cardinal had received excellent care for prostate cancer and dementia, and toxicology tests revealed normal levels of medications to treat the conditions.
He added that cancer had contributed to heart failure, which was the official cause of death.
“The coroner confirmed that Cardinal Bevilacqua was ailing, taking multiple prescription medications, and he died of natural causes,” said Donna Farrell, archdiocesan communications director, who spoke March 8 at a press briefing at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Philadelphia.
“It is what we believed and knew in our hearts all along, and this speculation can finally be laid to rest.”
The Montgomery County district attorney had asked the coroner to perform tests on the Cardinal’s body shortly after his death, since he died one day after he had been judged competent to testify in the upcoming trial of current and former priests.