Pope mourns Pa. death of Cardinal Bevilacqua

MARYCLAIRE DALE Associated Press Published:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI is expressing his "sadness" and offering "heartfelt condolences" over the death of U.S. Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

In a telegram to Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput (SHAP'-yoo), the pope praised Bevilacqua's "long standing commitment to social justice and the pastoral care of immigrants, and his expert contribution to the revision of the church's law" after the Second Vatican Council.

Bevilacqua was the spiritual leader of the 1.5 million-member Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1988 until his 2003 retirement. He died in his sleep Tuesday night.

He was criticized but never charged by two grand juries investigating child sex abuse allegations in the Roman Catholic Church. His death comes just days after lawyers battled in court over his competency as a potential witness in the upcoming trial of a longtime aide.