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Parents of Madeleine McCann shed tears as they meet the Pope

Original Source: HERALD: 31 MAY 2007
May 31 2007

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 this month.

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 loved ones."

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 the world.

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.


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