The Roman Catholic Congregation of the Holy Cross says it will pay as much as $18 million to a group of Quebec sexual abuse victims.

The abuses occurred at three Quebec schools. At College Notre-Dame, a private French high school in the city's Cote-des-Neiges neighbourhood, students were abused over several decades between 1950 and 2001. Other victims attended College Saint-Cesaire between 1950 and 1991 and Ecole Notre-Dame in Pohenegamook between 1959 and 1964.

Thursday's announcement followed a mediation between the congregation and representatives of the victims that began in December, launched to circumvent a class-action lawsuit threatened by the victims. The Holy Cross organization also agreed to issue a formal apology.

"I am truly pained by these transgressions and apologize, on behalf of the Congregation of Holy Cross, for all of the pain and suffering this abuse has inflicted on the victims," said Jean-Pierre Aumont, the Canadian provincial superior of the congregation, on Thursday.

In a video posted online, Aumont stared directly into the camera and announced the Congregation of the Holy Cross would pay the entire settlement itself, and would not require the schools where the abuses took place to help shoulder the financial burden.

"Damage was done, and we have taken measures to repair them. We hope that the victims will finally be able to throw off the veil of silence, heal from their wounds as best as possible and fully embrace their future," he said.

The deal allows for compensation for those abused by any employee of the congregation.