The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony and a former priest have agreed to pay a total of nearly $10m to settle four child sex abuse cases brought against them.

Lawyers for the victims announced the settlement on Tuesday, while Cardinal Roger Mahony took part in the Conclave to choose a new pope in Rome.

Mahony, who retired in 2011, was accused of helping a confessed paedophile priest evade law enforcement and later placed him back in the ministry.

None of the parties admitted wrongdoing, according to Vince Finaldi, the plaintiff's lawyer.

But Finaldi said the settlement, together with the recent release of internal church records documenting the role of
Mahony and others in covering up child sexual abuse by the clergy, comes "as close to an admission of guilt as you're going to get from the archdiocese".

The archdiocese's lawyer confirmed a settlement of $9.99m was reached, adding that the archidiocese has maintained that he was responsible for the conduct of the paedophile priest named in the case.

The Los Angeles archdiocese, which serves four million Catholics, reached a $660m civil settlement in 2007 with
more than 500 victims of child molestation.

Mahony at that time called the abuse "a terrible sin and crime".