Pope Francis Phones Family of Slain Journalist James Foley

Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 06:22 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Pope Francis Thursday phoned the grieving family of journalist James Foley — whose gruesome beheading by Islamic State militants was filmed and posted online — and promised to keep them in his prayers, a Vatican spokesman said.

The spokesman said the Rochester, N.H., family was "deeply moved and grateful" for the Pope's call, NBC News reported.

The Vatican spokesman, the Jesuit Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Pope called to "console them for their loss and assure them of his prayers," but released no other details of the call to the family Thursday afternoon, Catholic News Service reported from Vatican City.

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A day earlier, President Barack Obama reached out to Foley's parents, John and Diane Foley, telling them, "We are all heartbroken," CNS reported.

Foley, a graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee — a Catholic school of the Jesuit order — said prayer was an important part of his life during his first kidnapping in 2011 during the Libyan civil war, writing on the university's website:

"I prayed [my mom would] know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.

"I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. 
I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused."

Pope Francis has been outspoken about the need for an end to violence by the Islamic State (ISIS) militants, writing to UN chief Ban Ki-moon to make an "urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now under way."

"The violent attacks that are sweeping across northern Iraq cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes."

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