I had many opportunities to be in the company of Cardinal Bevilacqua, and each time I found him to be a bright, amiable and committed son of the Catholic Church. His sense of humor was infectious.
Much of today’s commentaries about Cardinal Bevilacqua are unfair. Let’s begin with the Catholic News Service. Never once in the article, “Cardinal Bevilacqua, Retired Philadelphia Archbishop, Dies at Age 88,” does it mention that he was never indicted for any alleged infraction. Oh, they tried.
In 2005, the local District Attorney, Lynne Abraham, smeared Bevilacqua in public with a grand jury report, but came up empty: she knew from the get-go that nothing could be done because of this “civil liberties technicality” called the statute of limitations. Moreover, in the grand jury report of 2001, it said that the grand jury was charged with investigating “the sexual abuse of minors by individuals associated with religious organizations and denominations.” But Abraham ignored this charge and focused exclusively on the Catholic Church. I wrote to her on March 31, 2011 asking her to explain which “religious organizations and denominations” she investigated besides the Roman Catholic Church. She refused to respond.
In 2011, another grand jury decided not to press charges against Cardinal Bevilacqua because they didn’t have the evidence needed to convict.
Anyone who would like to read an accurate account of what happened should read the piece by Peter Loftus in the online edition of today’s Wall Street Journal