PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –  A trial date has been set for a monsignor, three priests, and a lay teacher charged with endangering and sexually abusing schoolchildren in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Jury selection has been scheduled to begin in February of next year, and the actual trial, expected to last four months, is scheduled to begin March 26th. The defendants in the case have pleaded not guilty (see related story).

In the meantime, the courts are considering numerous pretrial motions, including whether retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua is competent to testify.

(Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, in 2003 file photo)

Prosecutors, who allege that Bevilacqua (right) has crucial information to the prosecution of this case, want to get his testimony on tape before the trial, because of his failing health.

Bevilacqua’s attorneys and other defense attorneys in the case have represented that the cardinal suffers cancer, dementia, and other medical, mental, and emotional issues and is not able or competent to testify.  They say his testimony would be unreliable and prejudicial to the defendants.

There will be a hearing on Cardinal Bevilacqua’s competency next month.

Reported by Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio 1060