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Sunday 21 September 2014

Bishop's tribute to murdered Foley

Published 24/08/2014 | 08:51

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Candles are lit on the town common during a vigil for James Foley in his home town of Rochester, New Hampshire (AP)

Murdered US journalist James Foley was living his faith by bringing images to the world of people suffering from war and oppressive regimes, a Roman Catholic bishop said today at a Mass in his honour.

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Bishop Peter Libasci said even after Mr Foley was captured for the first time in Libya in 2011, he "went back again that we might open our eyes".

The Mass was attended by Mr Foley's parents, John and Diane Foley, and hundreds of others in their home town of Rochester, New Hampshire. The bishop read aloud a letter from the Vatican extending the condolences of Pope Francis.

Mr Foley was kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day 2012 while covering the Syrian uprising. The Islamic State posted a web video on Tuesday showing his killing and said it was in retaliation for US air strikes in northern Iraq.

The bishop invoked the prayer of St. Francis, which begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace", to implore the gathered not to hate but to heal.

"It is in giving that we receive," he recited. "It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life. To these words, I think we can say, 'Yes, I wish we could do that.' It is not beyond our capability. It is not impossible. Our Lord lived it. Our most Blessed Mother lived it. Many saints have lived it. James lived it."

In a packed Our Lady of the Holy Rosary church, the bishop frequently addressed Mr Foley's parents and stressed their son's connection to family. He also prayed for another captive journalist, Steven Sotloff, and all captives.

"Jim went back again that we might open our eyes," the bishop said. "That we might indeed know how precious is this gift. May almighty God grant peace to James and to all our fragile world."

A funeral for Mr Foley will be October 18, what would have been his 41st birthday.

At a vigil last night in Rochester, about 200 people gathered to show support for the Foley family.

"We are honoured that you care and love Jim. We are honoured that you recognised the sacrifices he made," John Foley said then. "He loved the Syrian people. He was devoted to telling their story and doing whatever he could to help their fight."

Speakers praised Mr Foley's determination to report on the Syrian people uprooted by conflict.

"Tonight we want to honour freedom and love: the freedom that James so vehemently believed that all people deserved," said Nadia Alawa, founder of NuDay Syria, a Massachusetts-based organisation working to ease the pain and loss in Syria.

"To James Foley, denying others freedom and a basic voice of feelings and free space was not OK."

The world's largest bloc of Islamic nations also denounced Mr Foley's "heinous" killing and reiterated its support for international efforts to confront the Islamic State.

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