PHILADELPHIA -

A high-ranking church official accused of moving predator-priests to unwitting parishes has testified that he had no authority to make priest transfers.

Monsignor William Lynn said he could only remove a priest who admitted abusing a minor. Lynn said he otherwise made recommendations for the cardinal, and he said Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua overturned his plan for the Rev. Edward Avery when the accused priest was returning to ministry after inpatient treatment. Avery is now in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault.

Lynn testified in the ninth week of his child-endangerment and conspiracy trial.

His long-stoic demeanor in court has softened on the stand, and he has smiled several times.

Lynn is the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. charged for how abuse complaints were handled.