NORRISTOWN — A suburban Philadelphia coroner said Thursday that 88-year-old Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died of natural causes a day after he had been ruled competent to testify at the child-endangerment trial of a longtime aide.
Officials had said Bevilacqua, who served as archbishop from 1988 to 2003, was suffering from dementia and cancer. But last month, prosecutors asked the coroner to investigate because of the timing of his death.
Bevilacqua, spiritual leader of the archdiocese’s 1.5 million Roman Catholics from 1988 to 2003, died Jan. 31 at a seminary and was laid to rest without an autopsy. He was suffering from dementia and cancer, according to church officials and his lawyers, and his death was widely assumed to be from natural causes.