CARDINAL Anthony Bevilacqua, the retired leader of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, is not a competent witness because of memory loss, and therefore his testimony should be barred, according to attorneys representing one of the priests in the upcoming clergy child-abuse trial.

Attorneys for defendant Monsignor William Lynn made their assertions in a motion filed yesterday. It is based on observations made of Bevilacqua during a closed-door deposition on Nov. 28 and 29.

Bevilacqua, 88, who suffers from dementia, was unable to identify Lynn, his secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, and he struggled "to the point of tears" at his inability to answer questions, the filing said.

City prosecutors recorded Bevilacqua's testimony in case he is unable to testify during the March trial. Though not charged with a crime, the cardinal supervised Lynn, who is charged with crimes related to his allegedly enabling predator priests to rape altar boys by transferring the priests to new parishes.

Besides Lynn, two other priests, a former priest and a former Catholic-school teacher are to stand trial.