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McCanns hope to meet Pope as search for Madeleine continues

Original Source: SCOTSMAN: 28 MAY 2007
ANGUS HOWARTH Mon 28 May 2007
THE parents of missing Madeleine McCann are hoping to meet the Pope as they embark on a series of trips around Europe, their spokesman said yesterday.

Kate and Gerry McCann, both Catholics, are expected to attend a general audience in Rome on Wednesday. It is hoped Pope Benedict XVI will refer to Madeleine and her parents during prayers in St Peter's Square.

The visit would be the first of a number the couple are expected to make in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, among other countries. They are keen to keep Madeleine's case in the public eye in the hope that she may still be found.

It is not yet known if there will be the opportunity for the couple to spend some private time with the head of the Catholic Church.

Mr and Mrs McCann are said to believe the trip will "help them spiritually".

Clarence Mitchell, the Foreign Office liaison officer for the family, is helping the McCanns plan the trip. A final decision is expected tomorrow.

Mr Mitchell said: "Approaches have been made to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor and to the British ambassador to the Holy See and we are exploring the possibility of Gerry and Kate McCann visiting Rome to meet the Pope in the near future."

Last night, it emerged the search for Madeleine now also features online on the website Second Life, a virtual world in which people can live an entirely different existence away from their normal "offline" lives.

The site, which has more than six million registered "inhabitants", lists hundreds of entries and photos of Madeleine.

There are reports of an altar area on the site, where people can go and pray for Madeleine and

there is also said to be a virtual figure of footballer David Beckham, holding a picture of the missing girl.

It is 24 days since Madeleine was taken from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve.

Portuguese police have released details of a white man aged between 35 and 40 seen holding what was thought to be a child on the night Madeleine disappeared. The woman who reported the sighting was last night said to be wracked with guilt that she did nothing to stop him.

A close friend of Kate and Gerry McCann, she said she saw a blonde girl who was wearing "distinguishable" pyjamas and was wrapped in a blanket.


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