Two priests who counseled the parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann
over the four months they remained in Portugal might soon be interviewed by
Police are contemplating whether to question Anglican priest Haynes Hubbard and
Roman Catholic Father Jose Manuel Pacheco as witnesses, to see if any further
information could be gained for their current investigations.
The clergymen became close to British couple Kate and Gerry McCann after their
daughter’s disappearance on May 3, and Pacheco even gave them keys to the
Senhora da Luz (Our Lady of the Light) church in Praia da Luz, Portugal, to
allow them to pray in privacy whenever they wanted.
Over the past week, Portuguese newspapers have speculated that the priests
"received information in confession" from the McCanns which could help police in
their investigations. However, the claims were not sourced.
The latest news comes after both the mother and father of missing Madeleine were
declared suspects in a surprising twist to a case that has pulled on the
heartstrings of people worldwide.
Philomena McCann, Gerry’s sister, said police have suggested that Madeleine
might have been killed accidentally rather than kidnapped, as has been believed
since the British girl disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia
da Luz, a resort town in the southern Algarve region of Portugal.
Local newspapers have pointed out that if the couple had disclosed anything
privately to Pacheco there would be potential conflict between the Catholic
Church and the law.
The confidentiality of religious confession is sacrosanct in Catholicism and
would take precedence even over criminal law.
Pacheco indicated that he already expected the church to be involved in the
"I find it perfectly normal that police would carry out searches in Praia da
Luz, and not excepting the church," the Catholic priest said.
Anglican priest Hubbard, meanwhile, has said he believed it to be "ridiculous"
to imagine that the church could be used to conceal anything in the Madeleine
It has been nearly five months since four-year-old Madeleine disappeared from
her family’s holiday apartment while her parents were dining at a nearby
Since their daughter’s disappearance, the McCanns have launched an international
campaign to find her, enlisting the aid of celebrities such as soccer star David
Beckham and J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter fantasy books. They have
also traveled to various countries where they have met press and distributed
posters of Madeleine with the hope that someone may have spotted her.
The McCanns, who are both Roman Catholics, even met with Pope Benedict XVI, who
put his hand on their arms during an emotional meeting and blessed them.
Most recently, on Sunday, Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Group, pledged
$200,000 to help the McCanns clear their name.
Branson has also contacted several other wealthy Britons to encourage them to
contribute to a legal defense fund for the McCanns, a spokeswoman said.
Branson had already contributed to a $2 million fund set up to help find