Vatican: Atrocities show need to strengthen dialogue

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said interreligious dialogue with the Muslim community must be strengthened given "the barbarism underway" by terrorists claiming to be Muslims.

Pope consoles family of slain U.S. journalist James Foley

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis phoned the bereaved family of a U.S. journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Syria.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the pope phoned relatives of the late James Foley on Aug. 21 to console them for their loss and assure them of his prayers.

The call to the Foley family in Rochester, New Hampshire, came at in the afternoon New Hampshire time. Father Lombardi released no additional details.

Faith, prayer sources of strength for slain U.S. journalist, his family

American journalist James Foley, who was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in November 2012 in Idlib, Syria, is pictured in an undated photo. Foley, a freelance war correspondent from New Hampshire and a Marquette University alum, was killed at the hands of the Islamic State militant group.

ROCHESTER, N.H. — In April 2013, the parents of slain U.S. journalist James Foley attended a prayer vigil at Marquette University in Milwaukee to pray for their son, who at that time had disappeared in Syria.

Before Diane and John Foley had confirmation that spring that their son was missing, Diane said she just felt it -- he had missed one of his usual phone calls home -- and once they knew for sure, the couple said they were relying on their Catholic faith to cope and leaning on prayer to bring him home.

Religious, civic leaders calling on Gov. Nixon to halt execution of Missouri man

UPDATE: Russell Bucklew's execution was suspended May 20, pending a U.S. Supreme Court consideration of his appeal.

Religious and civic leaders, including the Missouri Catholic bishops, are calling on Gov. Jay Nixon to halt the May 21 execution of Russell Bucklew, due to a pre-existing health condition he has that could result in a botched execution.

Mo. executes fourth inmate in four months

Missouri carried out its fourth execution in four months on Feb. 26, with a fifth already set for next month and several more expected to follow.

Michael Taylor, 47, never denied his participation in the kidnapping, rape and killing of Ann Harrison, a 15-year-old honor student, in Kansas City in 1989.

Taylor and his co-defendant were sentenced to death by a judge, after they entered a guilty plea without any assurances of a sentencing deal. It has since become law that death sentences must be imposed by a jury, not a judge.

Vigils precede execution of Missouri inmate

Deacon John Flanigan held a protest sign during a vigil outside St. Francis Xavier (College) Church on the St. Louis University campus before the scheduled execution of Missouri death-row inmate Herbert Smulls. Deacon Flanigan spoke to Smulls by telephone and prayed with him just hours before a temporary stay of execution was granted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Missouri death-row inmate Herbert Smulls was executed Jan. 29  for the 1991 murder of Stephen Honickman. 

The U.S. Supreme Court had vacated three separate stays of execution after issuing a temporary stay of the execution the previous day. At issue in the appeal was the need to disclose the compounding pharmacy and details of the drug used in lethal injection.

Vigils were held across the state on Jan. 28 to protest the execution, including one on the steps of St. Francis Xavier (College) Church on the St. Louis University campus in Midtown St. Louis.

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