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Philadelphia prosecutors want testimony from ailing elderly cardinal

August 04, 2011

Prosecutors in Philadelphia are asking a court for permission to question Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua—who, at the age of 88, is suffering from dementia as well as cancer—in the trial of a former archdiocesan official.

The district attorney argues that Cardinal Bevilacqua’s testimony will be important to their effort to prove that Msgr. William Lynn engaged in a conspiracy that endangered children. The grand jury that called for prosecution of Msgr. Lynn hinted that Cardinal Bevilacqua might also have faced criminal charges, if not for his age and infirmity.

The prosecutors recently released transcripts of Cardinal Bevilacqua’s testimony during an earlier grand-jury probe. Lawyer for Msgr. Lynn said that the testimony would not be admissible at trial, since the cardinal would not be able to answer questions about that testimony. In response, prosecutors asked the court to allow videotaping the cardinal’s testimony now, before his memory deteriorates further.

Lawyers for Msgr. Lynn and for Cardinal Bevilacqua objected strenuously to the suggestion, saying that it would be “inhumane” to subject the cardinal to questioning at a time when his physical health is fragile and his mental state is often confused. They note that the cardinal was not called to testify before the grand jury that indicted Msgr. Lynn.


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  • Posted by: Savonarola - Aug. 04, 2011 6:14 PM ET USA

    Justice delayed is justice denied. To put it another way, stalling pays off. Bevilacqua has already escaped possible prosecution due to the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania; now he'll escape even testifying at the Lynn trial.