The parents of four-year-old Madeleine McCann, who was abducted in Portugal
four weeks ago, shed tears today on a trip to meet the Pope and raise the
profile of their daughter's case.
Gerry and Kate McCann, who are devout Catholics, were given the honour of
meeting Pope Benedict XVI during a General Audience at the Vatican.
Mrs McCann said later at a news conference at the residence of Britain's
ambassador to the Holy See that the Pope had been "very kind and very
sincere." Mr McCann, who is originally from Glasgow, said it had been important for them
to meet him "for spiritual reasons."
They said the Pope told them he would pray for the safe return of Madeleine,
who went missing while holidaying with her family in the Algarve earlier
Mrs McCann gave a photograph of her daughter to the Pope during the meeting,
which lasted just under 30 seconds.
She spoke to the Holy Father while her husband bowed and kissed his hand. The
couple had struggled to control their emotions throughout the ceremony, which
lasted more than an hour-and-a-half.
At one point, an English-speaking priest issued a prayer on behalf of the Pope
and said: "In a special way his blessing goes to your children and your
His words clearly moved the couple, from Rothley, Leicestershire, who wiped
back the tears with their heads bowed. For much of the general audience, Mrs
McCann kept her eyes closed.
But she frequently looked down at the picture of Madeleine she was carrying -
the portrait photograph which has been used in the main appeal and seen around
Throughout the event, Mr McCann comforted his wife, slipping his arm around her
waist and squeezing her shoulder.
A Catholic priest accompanying them also hugged and comforted her. Sitting
behind them was the British ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, and
their liaison officer, Clarence Mitchell.
The Pope looked grave as he listened to Mrs McCann speak about her daughter. He
put his hand on her arm to comfort her.
The couple now plan to travel to Germany
anmd the Netherlands
to raise awareness of Madeleine's case there.
Madeleine disappeared on May 3 when her parents left her and her two-year-old
twin brother and sister alone in their hotel room while they went to a
restaurant in their hotel complex in Praia da Luz.