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Kate and Gerry's anguish as they leave twins to visit Pope

Original Source:  MIRROR: 30 MAY 2007
Vanessa Allen In Praia Da Luz 30/05/2007
IT must have been the hardest of goodbyes.

As Kate McCann hugged her twins yesterday before flying to Rome for today's meeting with the Pope she must have wondered if this new pain of separation was too much to bear.

But rather than let Sean and Amelie see her anguish she flashed them a bright smile, listened to their baby chatter and gazed into their eyes.

Without letting them see tears, she kissed them as she stood on the balcony of their apartment and promised to be back by bedtime tonight.

Then she walked backwards waving as the two-year-olds called out 'Bye-bye.' Her eyes did not leave them until the last possible moment. At the weekend Kate and husband Gerry told how they now sleep with the twins between them to keep them close.

But yesterday, for the first time since four-year-old Madeleine's abduction almost four weeks ago - they left them with family overnight.

On the two and half hour flight to Rome, the Catholic couple anxiously held hands as Gerry explained why they had put themselves through the gut-wrenching pain of this parting.

He said: "Meeting the Pope is so potentially hugely important to what we are trying to achieve as a family.

"We never for one moment thought we would get such publicity, but it means we can get our message across."

Gerry said he and Kate were nervous about the meeting.

He added: "It could have such a massive impact on the chances of finding Madeleine. It takes the campaign to a stratospheric level. This is a huge privilege and it's absolutely brilliant we are having the opportunity."

Kate knows if there is any hope of bringing Madeleine home safe she must do whatever is necessary to keep the story of the disappearance in the news worldwide. And her determination to do that has fuelled the formidable strength shown by the 38-year-old GP over the past few weeks. The easiest option would have been to lock the door, stay in bed, weep over old photographs, replay treasured memories in her head and scream and shout in search of someone to blame.

But Kate hasn't taken the easy option. Instead she has emerged into the media spotlight each day and let herself be filmed and photographed to keep the abduction highlighted. She has remained focused and positive and at the same time kept up a show of loving normality for the twins.

Kate and Gerry, also 38, were told they could take the twins with them to Rome. But they did not want the youngsters to face even more disruption while having to cope without their big sister. So they decided to leave them with close relatives in Praia da Luz for 24 hours.

A British child psychologist is flying to Portugal later this week to speak to the children and assess how they have coped with their sister's disappearance.

They have not been able to tell their parents anything about the night Madeleine vanished from the bed between their cots and are thought to have slept through the suspected abduction.

Gerry said: "We have decided that for the majority of trips it will not be practicable, or fair, to take Sean and Amelie. They have an established routine which we do not want to disrupt and will be looked after by very close family."

He added: "We have been in Praia da Luz for over four weeks and Sean and Amelie's development from toddlers to little boy and girl continues. Madeleine will really notice the difference when she sees them."

The McCanns will join a general audience with Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter's Square today.

Kate will give the Holy Father a photo of Madeleine and ask him to pray for her. She said: "I think it will really help us."

BHS tycoon Sir Philip Green gave his private jet to the McCanns for their flight from Portugal to Rome.

In the next few days the couple also plan to visit Madrid, Berlin and Amsterdam to highlight their campaign. Kate also wants to go to Marrakech, where a woman tourist reported seeing a girl matching Madeleine's description.

The Pope greets thousands of pilgrims in Rome every Wednesday.

Politicians including Tony and Cherie Blair, Nelson Mandela, and Russia's Vladimir Putin have all been at the audiences.

The McCanns will be honoured guests in the front row until they are brought forward to the Pope, who will speak to them in English.


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