ROME (Reuters) - Pope Francis has called the parents of Mr James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, to offer his condolences and support, a Vatican spokesman said on Friday.
The Pope spoke at length with Mr John Foley and Mrs Diane Foley on Thursday afternoon with the aid of a Spanish-speaking friend of the family, the spokesman said. "It was a very long, intense conversation," he said.
The Foleys on Friday, after the long conversation with the Pope, called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic State fighters. "We do pray, we beg the international community to help the remaining hostages," Mrs Foley said in an interview with her husband on MSNBC. "We just pray that they will be set free."
As Islamic State fighters have swept through northern Iraq, Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken out against the violence that has seen thousands of Christians and others, including Shia Muslims and members of the Yazidi sect, killed or driven from their homes. He said this week that Western countries would be justified in acting to stop the "unjust" aggression. "Pope Francis, like Jesus, loves, like Jim. He understood Jim's heart," Mrs Foley said of her son, who "was able to draw strength from prayer" during his capture. She said love and compassion had drawn her son to cover the plight of the people in Syria, which has been embroiled in a violent conflict for the past several years.
The couple also said they were establishing a fund in their son's name and said they would continue to call for action from the international community. "We must stand together," Mrs Foley said. "Good and love and all that is free in the world must be together to fight the evil and the hatred."
Mr James Foley was beheaded by a masked member of the Islamic State group in an act filmed in a video released on Tuesday.
As Islamic State fighters have swept through northern Iraq, Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken out against the violence which has seen thousands of Christians and others including Shia Muslims and members of the Yazidi sect killed or driven from their homes.
He said this week that Western countries would be justified in taking action to stop the "unjust" aggression.