Is slain US journalist James Foley a martyr?


Many people - including Pope Francis - are now arguing that slain American journalist James Foley is a martyr, and some believe he should be considered for sainthood.

Foley's devout Catholic faith was discussed in the days after his grim execution by many who knew the American journalist, and reports have suggested his life could have been spared if he had converted to Islam.

The horrific video showing Foley kneeling in the desert next to whom many believe is British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary as the journalist makes a statement denouncing America does not give any inkling of his faith.

Foley condemns U.S. airstrikes on ISIS positions and humanitarian drops to refugees. He blames President Barack Obama and pleads with his family to not take government compensation.

A conversion to Islam could reportedly have helped him avoid a gruesome beheading, the image of his lifeless body lying in an empty desert burned into the collective memory of all who have seen it.

James Foley does not mention Jesus Christ, Christianity or anything resembling religion at any point in the video. But those who know him told anyone who would listen about his unwavering faith.

"[Jim] reminds us of Jesus. Jesus was goodness, love -- and Jim was becoming more and more that,' his grieving mother Diane Foley told reporters gathered outside her New Hampshire home, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

James Foley's younger brother, Michael Foley, told Katie Couric in a recent interview that Pope Francis "referred to Jim's act as, really, martyrdom" in an unprecedented phone call to the family.

Many cable news pundits and religious bloggers agree with the Pope.

Other accounts of James Foley's life have detailed his humility, faith and generosity. They refer to a letter published in Marquette Magazine, the college publication of his alma mater.

In the letter, James Foley wrote of how he survived his initial kidnapping in 2011 in Libya.

"I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed," the letter reads.

"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.

He recalls a phone call to his mother.

"I told her. 'I've been praying for you to know that I'm OK,' I said. 'Haven't you felt my prayers?'"

He then writes: "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 Catholic Church does not require that people live a saintly or pious life to be considered for sainthood.

But if there is proof their religious beliefs directly contributed to their death, they can be considered martyrs.

Not all martyrs become saints. Not all saints were martyrs.

By all accounts, James Foley was a devout Catholic. He did not mention faith in his final taped statement, but that does not appear to be a choice he had.

Those who know James Foley say his unwavering faith gave him the strength to stand tall in his final moments, even if only from his knees.

Pope Francis thinks James Foley is a martyr. Is he?

What We Know About James Foley
What We Know About James Foley

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