- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 21, 2014

American photojournalist James Foley was shown this week to be executed by Islamic State fighters, and while heartbreak and outrage have been the strongest reactions to the tragic news, Mr. Foley’s faith has emerged as a source of comfort.

Marquette University this week posted to its website a letter from Mr. Foley — a 1996 graduate — titled “Phone call home.” It recounts his time in captivity in Tripoli, Libya, how he used prayer to meditate, and a phone call he made to his mother in which he learned that loved ones back home were praying for his safe return.

“I began to pray the rosary,” he wrote. “It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.”

Mr. Foley’s mother told her son that Marquette was holding a prayer vigil. Asked whether he could feel the prayers, Mr. Foley wrote, “I feel them.”

“Maybe it was others’ prayers strengthening me, keeping me afloat,” he wrote. “If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.”


The archbishop of Oklahoma City on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against a group of people planning a satanic Black Mass next month.

In documents filed with the District Court of Oklahoma City, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley has asked that the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu Syndicate return any and all portions of a consecrated host that reportedly is destined for desecration during the Mass.

“To Catholics, the consecrated host is the most sacred, respected, and revered thing in the world,” court records state.

According to the Dakhma website, during Black Masses the host is “corrupted by sexual fluids then it becomes the sacrifice for the Mass.” The Black Mass is a way to “receive a ‘blessing’ from the Devil,” and the desecration is part of the ritual “to mock the Catholic Mass in the form of a blasphemy rite used to deprogram people from their Christian background.”


An ice bucket and extra towels are about all you can expect to find in Travelodge hotel rooms. The company has announced it would be removing Bibles from the nightstands in its British locations.

“This decision was based on customer research and the fact that we live in a multicultural society,” a Travelodge spokesman told The Huffington Post UK, adding that the Bibles would be available at front desks for visitors who request them.

The hotel chain said it had not received any complaints regarding the missing Bibles.

The Church of England voiced its discontent with the decision, saying it is “both tragic and bizarre that hotels would remove the word of God for the sake of ergonomic design, economic incentive or a spurious definition of the word ‘diversity.’”

The Huffington Post UK reported that the Bible policy was put into place in 2007 but was only now receiving attention.


He was elected amid a storm of controversy after his predecessor broke 600 years of tradition by resigning, but Pope Francis this week told reporters he “would do the same.”

“I think that the emeritus pope is already an institution, because our life gets longer and at a certain age, there isn’t the capacity to govern well because the body gets tired, and maybe one’s health is good, but there isn’t the capacity to carry forward all the problems of a government like that of the church,” Francis said, according to the Religion News Service.

The pontiff shared his thoughts with reporters while flying home from his visit to South Korea, one of many trips Francis has made during his first 18 months in office.

The 77-year-old pontiff also acknowledged that he is beginning to slow down. Though he joked about having only “two or three years” left of life, he told reporters he does sleep more.

“I read the things I like. I listen to music. That way I rest,” he said. “In July and part of August, I did that.”

• Meredith Somers can be reached at msomers@washingtontimes.com.

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