More than a dozen priests concelebrated a memorial Mass for slain journalist Jim Foley on Sunday in the family’s parish church in New Hampshire where a message of condolence from Pope Francis was read.
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a “Mass of Healing, Hope and Peace” was held for Foley and his family at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in Rochester, New Hampshire. More than 900 people packed the church with the Foley family filling four pews.
Rev. Paul Gousse, pastor of the parish, commended Jim, saying that he “freely laid his [life] down for freedom.”
During the service, a message of condolence from Pope Francis, which was addressed to William Francis Murphy, Bishop of Rockeville Centre, was read aloud:
“The Holy Father, deeply saddened by the death of James Wright Foley, asks you kindly to convey his personal condolences and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to James’ loved ones. He commends James to the loving mercy of God our Father, and joins all who mourn him in praying for an end to senseless violence and the dawn of reconciliation and peace among all the members of the human family. Upon the Foley family, and upon his friends and colleagues, he invokes the consolation and strength borne of our hope in Christ’s Resurrection.”
This letter was sent in addition to a personal phone call made last week by the pope to Foley’s parents, John and Diane Foley, to personally express his condolences.
After the Mass, Jim’s parents, John and Diane Foley, greeted parishioners, including New Hampshire Governor Maggi Hassan and U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen.
There were no representatives from the White House in attendance, a decision that has brought much criticism upon President Obama because he chose to send three representatives to the funeral of Missouri teen Michael Brown who was killed on August 9 after robbing a convenience store in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
Philip Balboni, chief executive of GlobalPost, the news outlet that Foley worked for, told reporters after the Mass that the journalist’s death was not in vain. Instead, “the horrific way Jim was butchered” has sparked a new national conversation about the threat the Islamic State poses not only to Iraq and Syria but also to the U.S.
“The killing has also raised questions about the U.S. prohibition against negotiating with terrorists,” the WSJ reports. “In an email to the Foley family in November 2013, the captors demanded $123 million. Instead, until last week, the family and GlobalPost were trying to raise $5 million, hoping that amount could secure Mr. Foley’s release.”
But it was not to be. Foley was beheaded by members of the Islamic terrorist group known as the Islamic State, and his murder was videotaped and released to the world on August 19.
Sunday’s Mass was a memorial rather than a funeral. A funeral Mass is being planned for October 18, which would have been Foley’s 41st birthday.
As the WSJ reports, the Foley family has established a scholarship in James Foley’s name, saying they want to bring his “empathy, humanity and courage” to the fields of education and journalism.
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