(Recasts with parents call for prayer, adds details)
ROME/WASHINGTON Aug 22 The parents of James
Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants
in Iraq, on Friday 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," his mother, Diane Foley, said in an
interview with her husband, John, on MSNBC. "We just pray that
they will be set free."
Their plea comes after a long conversation with Pope
Francis, who the Vatican said called the couple on Thursday
afternoon to offer his condolences and support.
James Foley, who was abducted in Syria in late 2012, was
beheaded by a masked member of the Islamic State group in an act
filmed in a video released on Tuesday that also threatened a
second American journalist, Steven Sotloff.
The United States has opened a criminal investigation into
Foley's death and said the Islamic State is an imminent threat
to U.S. interests. President Barack Obama also has called for a
united international front to combat the group, which is still
holding other hostages.[
Foley's parents said they drew "huge comfort" from their
conversation with the pope, who himself was grieving the loss of
relatives who died earlier this week in a car crash in
A Vatican spokesman said he was able to speak at length with
Diane and John Foley with the aid of a Spanish-speaking friend
of the family.
"It was a very long, intense conversation," the spokesman
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
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," Diane 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," Diane Foley said. "Good and love
and all that is free in the world must be together to fight the
evil and the hatred."
(Reporting by James Mackenzie in Rome and Susan Heavey in
Washington; Editing by Louise Ireland and Bill Trott)