By John Spano, Times Staff Writer
8:37 AM PST, December 1, 2006

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Cardinal Roger M. Mahony announced this morning that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $60 million to settle 45 claims of clergy sexual abuse.

The settlement is the first by the church and represents 8% of the 562 cases brought by people who claimed the archdiocese failed to protect them from pedophile priests.

It is also the first settlement that Mahony has approved in Los Angeles. A dozen other Catholic institutions across the country have settled with victims of clergy abuse.

"This is very important for us," Mahony said in a telephone interview this morning. "This is a major effort at healing and reconciliation."

Mahony also said that he offered his personal apologies to victims of abuse during weekly meetings this fall.