Obama Sent No Representative to Memorial Mass for Beheaded Journalist James Foley

August 25, 2014 - 4:27 PM
Holy Rosary Catholic Church

Mourners packed Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Rochester, N.H., on Sunday for a memorial Mass for journalist James Foley, who was murdered by ISIS terrorists. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama sent no White House representative to the memorial Mass held yesterday in Rochester, New Hampshire, for James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) terrorists.

President Obama, however, did send three White House aides to Monday’s funeral for Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American fatally shot in an encounter with a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

The memorial mass for James Foley took place Sunday at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Foley’s hometown. Connie Hammond, an administrative assistant at Holy Rosary, told CNSNews.com that no White House officials were in attendance.

“There was nobody that represented the White House,” Hammond said, adding that all of the dignitaries in attendance called ahead except for one and that all of them sat together.

Tom Bebbington, director of communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, told CNSNews.com that the officials in attendance at the Mass included New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D.), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R.-N.H.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D.-N.H), and Rep. Ann Kuster (D.-N.H.).

Bebbington confirmed that no White House officials were present.

Pope Francis sent his condolences to the Foley family in a letter that was read during the Mass.

The letter said the Holy Father “commends James to the loving mercy of God our Father, and joins all who mourn him in praying for an end to senseless violence and the dawn of reconciliation and peace among all the members of the human family.”

While Obama sent no White House officials to Foley’s Sunday memorial Mass, he sent three to Michael Brown’s Monday funeral.

These, according to the Associated Press, included Broderick Johnson, chairman of the White House's My Brother's Keeper Task Force; Marlon Marshall, the deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, who went to high school with Brown's mother; and Heather Foster, who is an adviser to the Office of Public Engagement.

James Foley, a freelance photojournalist, was murdered by ISIS terrorists, who released a video of his beheading last week. He had previously been imprisoned while reporting from Libya.

“Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend,” Obama said in a statement released last week following news of Foley’s death, “He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away.”

“Today, the American people will all say a prayer for those who loved Jim,” Obama concluded, “All of us feel the ache of his absence. All of us mourn his loss.”

Obama was later criticized for going golfing shortly after making this statement on Foley’s beheading.

CNSNews.com asked the White House why no White House official attended James Foley’s memorial Mass.

“The President expressed his profound condolences to the family in his statement last week,” responded Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “He was speaking on behalf of his Administration—as well as the American people—in offering these words to the Foley family, and he continues to keep them in his thoughts as we attempt to bring the other American hostages home.”