Pope Francis prays for Chicago violence victims in letter

CHICAGO (AP) _ Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich (blayz SOO’-pich) says Pope Francis has written him letter saying he praying for the city’s victims of violence.

Cupich read from the Pope’s letter during an event Tuesday announcing the Chicago Archdiocese’s new initiatives to fight violence in the city. Chicago has seen killings spike, hitting a 19-year high last year when there were 762 homicides. That’s more than New York and Los Angeles combined.

Pope Francis made a call for nonviolence in his letter dated Tuesday and told Cupich to tell Chicagoans that he shared in their grief and prays they “may experience healing and reconciliation.”

The archdiocese’s anti-violence efforts include a “Walk for Peace” on Good Friday through the city’s Englewood neighborhood. The archdiocese also is creating a fund to invest in new anti-violence approaches.