Pope Francis prays for Chicago violence victims in letter

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CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich (blayz SOO'-pich) says Pope Francis has written him a letter saying he is 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.

Pope Francis made a call for nonviolence in his letter dated Tuesday and told Cupich to tell the people of Chicago that he shared in their grief and prays they "may experience healing and reconciliation."

The archdiocese's anti-violence efforts will include a Good Friday "Walk for Peace" through the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. The archdiocese also is creating a fund to invest in new anti-violence approaches.