The day after Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died, officials in Montgomery County asked the coroner to investigate the Catholic leader's death.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman made the suggestion because of what she called “odd” timing.
“This is not a criminal investigation. I did not view it as initiating an investigation” Ferman said on Friday.
The 88-year old Cardinal died on January 31, a day after a judge found him competent to testify in the trial of a former aide.
That aide, Msgr. William Lynn, is accused of hiding predator priests by shuffling them from church to church. His trial is scheduled for next month. Bevilacqua wasn't charged in the case.
“I had the same reaction that many people had, that many people communicated with me that morning. It struck many of us as odd, as peculiar that the Cardinal passed away so suddenly after the court ruling” Ferman said.
Church officials say the Cardinal was suffering from cancer and dementia. He died at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Lower Merion.
“Because the death happened in my jurisdiction, this was a key witness in a case, the death happening so suddenly, I just thought someone should make sure that nothing happened that was inappropriate” Ferman added.
Donna Farrell, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia told NBC10 “At times when a public figure, and certainly Cardinal Bevilacqua was a public figure, dies somewhere other than the hospital, in this case he died at the seminary where he lived, that it is not out of the question that tests like this might be done.”
The Archdiocese reportedly turned over medical notes and medications that Bevilacqua took in the three weeks before he died.
Coroner Walter Hofman says he conducted an exam of the body and took samples for toxicology and other testing, but did not perform a full autopsy.
It could be two weeks before all the tests are complete.
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