Funeral Mass for Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua

February 12, 2012 5:59:36 AM PST
A funeral Mass for the former spiritual leader of Philadelphia's 1.5 million Catholics was held Tuesday afternoon at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died last week at the age of 88.

During the funeral Mass, Bevilacqua was remembered as a brilliant yet humble man who lead the Roman Catholic church in Philadephia for 15 years beginning in 1988.

RELATED: Watch the entire funeral Mass

RELATED: Pictures from the funeral Mass

In the homily, the Cardinal's friend Monsignor Louis D'Addezio spoke of Bevilacqua's compassion. He recalled walking with Bevilacqua through what was then Philadelphia's Red Light district to visit a man dying of AIDS.

"The dying man was surrounded by his family," said D'Addezio. "Cardinal Bevilacqua was so kind, compassionate and pastoral, that tears came to all of our eyes as we listened to the encouraging words of this wonderful priest."

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput was the principal celebrant for the funeral Mass. Cardinal Justin Rigali, who succeeded Bevilacqua as archbishop of Philadelphia in 2003 and who retired in 2011, participated as well.

Prior to the funeral, there was a public visitation. Stafania Kelley of Roxborough brought an aging photo from when Bevilacqua visited an instituional kitchen where she worked.

She told Action News she still remembers his friendly manner.

Bevilacqua retired in 2003. In recent months, he had become central to a child sex abuse case involving grand jury allegations claiming the cleric oversaw a cover up that excused and enabled abusive priests.

Many at the funeral Tuesday said they wanted to remember only good things about their former shepherd.

"What ever happened with whole sex scandal, that had nothing to do with me," said Luciane Green of Mount Airy. "I only have good memories of him."

"That's not important to me," said another man. "That will all get sorted out. I think we should focus on our own lives and what good we do every day and not worry so much about whatever mistakes others have done."

After the funeral, Bevilacqua was entombed in the crypt beneath the cathedral's altar with a Rite of Committal.