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Pope Francis calls slain journalist James Foley's parents

Pope Francis called the parents of slain journalist James Foley on Thursday afternoon to console them their loss, the Vatican said.

In the telephone call, the pope offered his condolences to John and Diane Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire, and assured them of his prayers, a Vatican spokesman said.

A gruesome video released Tuesday showed James Foley being beheaded by an Islamic militant. The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, also known as ISIS, said the execution was in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes on the Islamic group's positions in northern Iraq.

Foley's captors had also demanded a ransom of $132.5 million from his parents and political concessions from the United States.

Remembering James Foley

Foley, a 40-year-old freelance journalist, disappeared on Nov. 22, 2012, while reporting in Syria on that country's civil war.

His parents have said they are very proud of their son and have begged the extremists not to kill any more captives.

"We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person," the family said in a statement.

Diane and John Foley talk to reporters Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, outside their home in Rochester, N.H. AP

John Foley told reporters Wednesday that he was tormented by thoughts of how his son died.

"It haunts me how much pain he was in, and how cruel the method of execution is," the father said. "He was courageous to the end."

James Foley was a graduate of Marquette University, which on Thursday announced the creation of a scholarship in his name.

A "holy Mass of healing, hope, and for peace" will be held Sunday at 2 p.m. at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Rochester.

A memorial Mass for James Foley is planned for Oct. 18.