Current Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput released a statement on the death of Cardinal Bevilacqua.
“I was greatly saddened to learn of the death of my predecessor Cardinal Bevilacqua,” he said. “I encourage all Catholics in the Archdiocese to join me in praying for the repose of his soul and that God will comfort his family as they mourn his loss. Cardinal Bevilacqua has been called home by God; a servant of the Lord who loved Jesus Christ and His people.”
The statement pointed out the “Catholic Faith and Life” initiative, an attempt to bring non-practicing Catholics back into the church that culminated in 40,000 Catholics in a candlelit procession on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
He also hosted a weekly live call-in radio show and wrote a monthly bulletin called “Voice of Your Shepherd.”
His pastoral letter on racism, “Healing Through Faith and Truth,” was written in January of 1998 when racial tensions were causing violence in areas including Grays Ferry and North Philadelphia and is considered one of the most important documents written during his tenure, according to the statement. In the letter, he called racism “an intrinsic evil that separates us from God” and “a moral disease.”
“Cardinal Bevilacqua’s death comes at a time when the Archdiocese is facing extraordinary challenges,” Archbishop Chaput said. “During this difficult period, I invite all of our people to come together in prayer for a renewal of our Church and Her mission.”