Bevilacqua was trained in both civil and canon law and was the subject of much criticism by two grand juries over cases of child sex abuse. He was never charged with a crime, but was questioned over his handling of complaints of abuse against dozens of priests in his congregation.
The cardinal was born in Brooklyn, New York. After being ordained in 1949, he went on to become Chancellor of the Brooklyn Diocese in 1976.
He is largely remembered for his passion in fighting for the poor and disadvantaged.