Pope Francis Calls Parents Of Murdered Journalist James Foley

Pope Francis made a heartfelt phone call Thursday to the family of James Foley, a journalist who was recently beheaded by the Islamic State (ISIS) after two years in captivity. Francis spoke with Foley’s parents, both devout Catholics, for about 20 minutes through a translator two days after a video of Foley’s beheading surfaced on Tuesday.

John and Diane Foley said they drew “huge comfort” from the phone call, which was described as “very long [and] intense,” by a Vatican spokesman. The Rev. Marc Montminy, a family friend, said Pope Francis “was very compassionate, very loving.” Pope Francis himself is mourning the loss of four family members who died in a car crash on Tuesday.

Foley’s parents appealed for prayer and for the international community to help hostages in Syria in an interview with MSNBC on Friday. Foley was a practicing Catholic and said in a letter to his alma mater, Marquette University, that he prayed the rosary while being held captive in Libya in 2011.

“I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed,” Foley wrote in the letter. “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.”