Pope Francis personally called the family of James Foley, a United States journalist beheaded in Syria by ISIS militants, to express his condolences this week.
John and Diane Foley, parents of the murdered photojournalist, said they had a discussion with the pope about their son’s murder in which the pope shared his own recent losses.
“Pope Francis was so dear because he is grieving himself, having just lost three members of his family and (with) his nephew critically ill,” Diane Foley said on the program. “Here in the midst of his tremendous grief, he took the time to call. Our whole family was there, one of our beloved priest friends… was there, my brother-in-law spoke in Spanish to him. He was just so kind.”
Vatican officials said Pope Francis was particularly struck by the faith of the late journalist’s mother.
James Foley was kidnapped by ISIS militants in Syria sometime in late 2012. His kidnapping was not publicized at the time.
Last week ISIS militants released a video that appeared to show a masked man with a British accent beheading James Foley. The militant group claimed his killing was in retribution for the United States conducting airstrikes against ISIS positions.
The brutal militant group’s tactics have drawn criticism from across the Middle East and also from the government of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslin country.
Even Pope Francis has spoken out against ISIS, saying the group must be stopped, but stopping short of calling for war.
“In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor,” Pope Francis told journalists. “I underscore the verb ‘stop.’ I’m not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ just ‘stop.’ And the means that can be used to stop them must be evaluated.”
ISIS militants have targeted many minority religious groups and even Muslims that do not share their radical ideology. Though the group seized large portions of Iraq and parts of Syria, U.S, airstrikes and assaults from Kurdish forces as well as the Syrian Army have put the group on the defensive.