updated 8/12/2008 12:22:35 PM ET 2008-08-12T16:22:35

Chicago's Catholic archdiocese agreed Tuesday to pay more than $12.6 million to settle lawsuits by 16 victims of sexual abuse by priests 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 of the cases involve sexual abuse by 10 different priests and two relate to 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.

The settlements were reached through a mediation process in which the cardinal himself gave a lengthy deposition.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented some of the victims praised the mediation process that arrived at the settlements and said in a statement that the cardinal was "actively involved in this process."

"He has demonstrated his commitment to healing these survivors," Anderson said.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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