Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles apologized Sunday to the hundreds of the plaintiffs involved in the recent settlement over allegations of sex abuse.
"There really is no way to go back and give them that innocence that was taken from them. The one thing I wish I could give the victims ... I cannot," he said.
"Once again, I apologize to anyone who has been offended, who has been abused. It should not have happened, and it will not happen again."
More than 500 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse will get a share of a $660-million settlement reached late Saturday, reported The Associated Press. This is by far the largest payout since the nationwide clergy abuse scandal emerged in 2002 in Boston.
The amount would average a little more than $1.3 million per plaintiff, although individual payouts will vary according to the severity and duration of the abuse.
The deal settles all 508 cases that remained against the archdiocese, which also paid $60 million in December to settle 45 cases that weren't covered by the insurance companies.
Under the latest deal, the archdiocese will pay $250 million, insurance carriers will pay a combined $227 million and several religious orders will pay $60 million. The remaining $123 million will come from litigation with religious orders that chose not to participate in the deal, reported the AP.
The settlement will not affect the archdiocese's core ministry, Cardinal Mahony said, but the church will have to sell buildings, use some of its invested funds and borrow money. The archdiocese will not sell any parish property, he said.
Cardinal Mahony met with dozens of people alleging sex abuse in the past 14 months, which he said helped him understand the importance of a quick settlement.
The settlement also calls for the release of priests' confidential personnel files after review by a judge.
Cardinal Mahony and all parties are expected before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge today to enter the settlement into the court record. A judge must sign off on the agreement.
"I think for those of us who have been involved in this for more than five years, it's a huge relief," said Michael Hennigan, archdiocese attorney, told the AP. "But it's a disappointment too that we didn't get it done much earlier than this."
According to the AP, these settlements push the total amount paid out by the U.S. church since 1950 to more than $2 billion, with about a quarter of that from Los Angeles.