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UPDATE: Services for retired Allentown Bishop Edward Cullen

Bishop Cullen Portrait
Courtesy of Allentown Diocese
The Most Rev. Edward P. Cullen, Third Bishop of the Diocese of Allentown, died Tuesday.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Edward P. Cullen, the third bishop of the Diocese of Allentown, died Tuesday at Lehigh Valley Health Network's Cedar Crest campus. He was 90.

The diocese confirmed Cullen's death in a news release shortly after his passing.

“Bishop Cullen lived his life as a faithful servant of Jesus Christ and His Church," current Bishop Alfred Schlert said. "He was visionary in spiritual, pastoral, and temporal matters. Along with the clergy, religious, and laity of the Diocese, I mourn his loss and commend his soul to God’s mercy, trusting in Our Lord’s promise of reward to good and faithful servants.”

  • The Diocese of Allentown reported the death of Edward P. Cullen on Tuesday
  • Cullen served 11 years as the Third Bishop of Allentown
  • He was a key figure in the sexual abuse scandal by priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Cullen served 11 years as head of the Allentown diocese.

A Philadelphia native, he was ordained a priest on May 19, 1962, by Cardinal John Krol, then Archbishop of Philadelphia, at the Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

Cullen graduated from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1958 and a Master of Divinity degree in 1974. He earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970; a Master of Arts degree from LaSalle University in 1971; and completed the Human Services Management Executive Program at Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1986.

In 1968, Cullen was appointed an assistant director of Catholic Social Services which became the springboard to two decades of service in social work. Bishop Cullen continued to serve as the agency’s assistant director until 1983 and was director from 1983 through 1988.

Cullen rose to several administrative positions and became a key figure in the sexual abuse scandal by priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. A former aide to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, he testified before the grand jury that investigated widespread abuse allegations. A 2005 report produced by the grand jury detailed steps taken by Bevilacqua, and his aides, in the 1990s to cover up priest abuse.

Cullen was Bevilacqua’s vicar of administration.

In the Diocese of Allentown, Cullen as bishop appointed the first diocesan victim assistance coordinator and first diocesan review board in the wake of the church’s sex abuse scandal. He cooperated with district attorneys in the diocese who launched their own investigations and removed several Allentown Diocese priests over allegations of abuse.

As bishop, he was credited with significantly increasing protections for children and young people, forged bonds of cooperation with law enforcement, and enhanced care for victims of abuse, the diocese said.

Bishop Cullen resigned his position at age 76 in 2009. In retirement wrote several books, booklets and pastoral letters, assisted with officiating Confirmations throughout the diocese and conducted retreats and days of recollection.

All services for Bishop Cullen will be held at the Cathedral of Saint Catharine of Siena in Allentown, and will begin with the reception of the body at 4 p.m. May 18. Visitation will be held 4-7 p.m. and will be followed by a vigil service at 7 p.m., also on May 18.

Visitation will continue 9-10:30 a.m. May 19 and will be followed by a funeral Mass at 11 a.m., also May 19.