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The Archdiocese of Chicago agreed Tuesday to pay more than $12.6 million to settle lawsuits by 16 victims of sexual abuse by priests —bringing to $65 million the total such settlements paid by the archdiocese over three decades.

The Archdiocese of Chicago agreed Tuesday to pay more than $12.6 million to settle lawsuits by 16 victims of sexual abuse by priests —bringing $65 million to the total such settlements paid by the archdiocese over three decades.

“My hope is that these settlements will help the survivors and their families begin to heal and move forward,” Cardinal Francis George said in a statement in which he also offered an apology for the abuse.

Fourteen cases settled Tuesday involve sexual abuse by 10 different priests. Two relate to an 11th priest, the Rev. Daniel J. McCormack, who pleaded guilty last year to having abused five children.

The archdiocese has now settled four of the five lawsuits stemming from abuse by McCormack.

“I apologize again today to the survivors and their families and to the whole Catholic community,” George said in his statement.

“We must continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of the children in our care,” he said.

Chancellor Jimmy Lago said the Chicago archdiocese has paid $65 million to settle approximately 250 claims during the past 30 years. Mediation continues in about a couple dozen more cases, Lago said.

The settlements were reached through a mediation process in which George gave a deposition he said was eight hours long.

AP

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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