Pope Francis looks on during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican
Pope Francis phoned the parents of murdered journalist James Foley after he was beheaded by Isis militantsReuters

Pope Francis rang the parents of James Foley to offer comfort following the execution of their son.

The leader of the Catholic Church made the call to Diane and John Foley, confirmed the Pontiff's spokesman, Rev Federico Lombardi.

What the pope said to the American journalist's parents was not revealed and Diane and John, who are Catholics, declined to comment on the call.

A family friend said the conversation lasted 20 minutes and was conducted via an interpretor. Fr Marc Montminy told the New York Daily News: "He was very compassionate, very loving."

The world found out about Foley's fate via a gruesome video of him being beheaded by members of Isis (known as Islamic State) who spoke with a British accent.

After his death, it emerged IS had demanded around £80m in return for Foley's life.

His parents paid tribute to their son following his death, calling him a "martyr".

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