James Foley

James Foley

September 8, 2014
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Slain journalist James Foley, a Catholic who sent images and copy from different war zones, was described as living his faith through his work.

The Associated Press reported that at a memorial Mass Aug. 24, Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester, N.H., lauded Foley for bringing important images of war and oppressive regimes to the rest of the world.

Foley was kidnapped in November 2012 while covering the war in Syria. The Islamic State posted a video on the Internet Aug. 19 showing him being beheaded, saying it was in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq.

Foley was a 1996 graduate of the journalism program at Marquette University, a Jesuit-run university in Milwaukee. He had been a freelance journalist for the past several years, mostly in the world's trouble spots.

In 2011, he was kidnapped on a Libyan battlefield and held captive in Tripoli for 45 days.

The Foleys plan a funeral for their son on Oct. 18, on what would have been his 41st birthday.

In a letter to his family dictated in June to a fellow hostage who was about to be released, Foley recalled memories of earlier times at home and thanked them for praying for him.

"I feel you all especially when I pray," Foley said. "I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray."

Vatican Radio reported Aug. 25 that the Holy See's secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a condolence message on behalf of Pope Francis to Foley's family.

PAPAL PHONE CALL

Pope Francis phoned Foley's family on Aug. 21, engaging in a conversation of longer than 20 minutes with several members of the family, through a translator, and in Spanish with one family member.

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, assistant director of the Vatican press office, told reporters that the conversation was "long and intense."

Pope Francis was particularly "struck by the faith" of the late journalist's mother, the spokesman said.

Father Paul Gousse, pastor of the family's parish, Our Lady of the Rosary in Rochester, N.H., told Catholic News Service Aug. 22 that the Foleys told him they were especially struck by the pope's outreach to them at a time when he is grieving himself.

The wife of the pope's nephew and their two young children were killed in an Aug. 19 car crash in Argentina.

In an Aug. 22 interview on NBC's Today show, John and Diane Foley briefly described the previous day's discussion with the pope, in which they spoke of shared grief at the death of loved ones.

John Foley said "we felt very comforted and supported" that the pope offered his personal prayer.

MEMORIAL MASS

The Associated Press described the Aug. 25 memorial Mass at the family's parish as packed, with people standing three deep in the back and sides of the church.

AP said Bishop Libasci urged people not to think of vengeance. "Look at what it's done already," he said. "Look at the heartbreak."

Earlier, on Aug. 20, Foley's parents spoke to reporters on the front yard of their home.

"We thank God for the gift of Jim. We are so, so proud of him," said Diane Foley.

She added that he was "a courageous, fearless journalist – the best of America."

STRENGTH FROM GOD

John Foley told reporters: "We think his strength came from God," and his wife interjected: "We know it did."

His father also described how their son not only wanted to humanize the wars he was covering but would also "take a bullet" for any of his colleagues.

"It's not difficult to find solace," his father added, saying he knows his son is "in God's hands."