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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 22:56 GMT
LA diocese settles abuse claims
Cross and candle
Hundreds more abuse lawsuits are pending against the diocese
The largest Roman Catholic diocese in the US has agreed to pay $60m (30m) to settle dozens of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests.

The settlement by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles relates to 45 cases among more than 500 that are pending.

It is one of the largest settlements since the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal erupted in the US in 2002.

Archdiocese head Cardinal Roger Mahony said he hoped the money would help the victims move forward with their lives.

"Today's settlement of 45 cases is a positive step forward in the church's efforts to promote healing and reconciliation for those who have suffered abuse by members of the clergy," said Cardinal Mahony.

A total of 22 priests were involved in the settlement, the Associated Press news agency reported. Some of the lawsuits against the archdiocese date back to the 1930s.

The archdiocese said its finances would not be disrupted, as it had already budgeted for the settlement, but other dioceses have declared bankruptcy following a flood of abuse claims.

Since 2002 nearly 1,000 people have filed such claims against the Roman Catholic church in California alone.

In February 2004, a report commissioned by the Church said more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the US had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years.

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