The McCanns widely publicised European campaign starts in Rome, where they are granted an audience with the
Pope and later hold a press conference in the British Embassy to the Vatican.
Picture taken 29 May 2007 shows Sir Philip Green's private jet put at Gerry and Kate McCann's disposal after
hearing about Madeleine's abduction, at Faro airport in Portugal. The McCanns used the jet to travel to Rome to
prepare for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on 30 May.
Leaving the twins...
'Earlier Kate revealed she was so traumatised by Madeleine's kidnap she could not face sleeping away from the twins.
She said: "We've become totally protective parents."' - Daily Mirror 28 May 2007
The next day, 29 May 2007, Kate and Gerry left for Rome on the first leg of their European campaign. The twins? They
stayed in Praia da Luz with Trish and Sandy Cameron.
"Clarence spoke to us about a possible visit to the Vatican. Rome is already preparing itself. Francis Campbell was spoken
– Kate McCanns' diary, 27th of May, as reported in Correio da Manhã 26 July 2007
Rome, 29 May 2007 - 30 May 2007
Kate and Gerry set off from Praia da Luz in the afternoon for their
evening flight to Rome. They travel on a private jet supplied by retail tycoon Sir Philip Green, with Clarence Mitchell and
a small group of media. The flight takes two and a half hours and touches down at Ciampino airport in the capital.
As they step off the plane at Ciampino airport, they are greeted
by the British Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, and a representative of the Catholic Church, who kissed Mrs McCann
on both cheeks.
The couple are then swiftly driven to the British residency in the
centre of Rome.
Two year old twins Sean and Amelie remain in Portugal to be looked
after by Gerry's sister Trish Cameron and her husband Sandy.
The McCanns meet Pope Benedict XVI at a 10.30am general audience, at the start of their "European tour"
to raise awareness of Madeleine's disappearance.
Following their audience, the McCanns hold a news briefing with journalists from Portugal, Sweden, Spain, Germany and
Italy. (See below for complete transcript).
Kate and Gerry return to Praia da Luz late in the evening.
The McCanns await their audience with The Pope
Missing girl's parents meet with pope
Sky News videos 29/30 May 2007
Sky News do not allow these particular videos to be embedded, nor do make direct links available.
To view these videos go to
SkyNews/video and enter 'McCanns Pope' in the search box.
The McCanns decide to say goodbye to the twins in front of the waiting press
McCann Parents Say Goodbye To Twins
May 29, 2007
This Sky footage shows Madeleine McCann's parents saying goodbye to their children as they leave their Algarve apartment,
before heading to Rome for an audience with the Pope. It is the first time Kate McCann has left Portugal since Madeleine's
The McCanns give a short interview on Sir Philip Green's private plane
Kate And Gerry Fly To Rome To Meet Pope
May 29, 2007
Madeleine McCann's parents are in Rome for their audience with the Pope who has been kept up to date on the search for
the four-year-old. The couple's twins have been left with relatives in Portugal. Hear what they had to say on the flight to
Transcript by Nigel Moore
Gerry McCann: This is the first time that Kate and I have flown without Sean
and Amelie, errr... together and so, you know, you would have been nervous beforehand... we're going to see the Pope which,
you know, is going to be an incredibly important day for us and also in, what I think is, for the search for Madeleine and...
we always weigh up whether we can bring Sean and Amelie and it... they're in their routine, they're with, you know, my sister
and her husband and, errr... Madeleine's... who are god... Madeleine's godparents and who will be really well looked after
and that helps reassure us that we are going to be in and out very quickly and back home before their bedtime tomorrow and,
of course, we don't like leaving them but, errr... needs must sometimes and it would be unfair to bring them.
Kate McCann: I think from a... from a personal point of view it would be
lovely to have them here and get a bit of comfort from them, errm... although that's maybe a bit selfish because obviously
trying to bring two-year-olds in a car, on a plane and... you know, especially to something like this, errm... it's... it's
not neccessarily in their best interests really and although... I mean it's not ideal but then, you know, sometimes you have
to do things that aren't ideal and at the end of the day, you know, we're... we're doing this for Madeleine really, we just
gotta keep sight of that, so...
Kate meets the Pope
McCanns Meet The Pope In Rome
May 30, 2007
The parents of the missing toddler Madeleine McCann have had an audience with the Pope.The visit to the Vatican is part
of Kate and Gerry McCann's campaign to keep their daughter's image in the public eye.
Kate and Gerry McCann at the Rome press conference
Madeleine Parents' Appeal From Rome
May 30, 2007
Kate and Gerry McCann made a fresh appeal for help in finding their daughter following the audience with the Pope.
Video and transcript of the McCanns' news briefing in Rome, 30 May 2007
30 May 2007
Transcript by Nigel Moore
Gerry McCann: "May I first of all start by thanking all of you for coming,
errr... to see us, errm... as you know the reason we are here is as a direct result of the abduction of our daughter from
Praia da Luz, in Algarve, in Portugal on May the 3rd of this year.
"We're almost four weeks, errr... following her abduction she's still missing despite a very extensive investigation.
We have had tremendous strength from the outpourings of goodwill that we have received from all over the world but
particularly from the local Catholic community in Portugal and from the church which we've been attending regularly.
"Today, in meeting the Pontiff, was, errm... an experience that has very mixed emotions for us. Errm... in ordinary circumstances,
of course, it would be the highlight of any Catholic to come and meet the Pope. Of course, it's saddened with
the very marked realisation that our daughter is still missing. And, errm... we know that many people both here and elsewhere
are praying for our daughter and that helps us sustain our belief that we can get her back safely.
"We do wish to publicise her disappearance in the hope that somebody has information - either knowing where she
is or knowing who may have taken her - and we appeal to people all over the world if they can offer us some help or comfort
it is to help publicise that disappearance.
"For anyone who wishes to help, posters such as this one showing Madeleine and a website which is dedicated
to helping us search for Madeleine called 'www . findmadeleine . com' has posters in many, many different languages and
I would just ask that anyone who is going on holiday to take a poster, or 10 posters and put them up anywhere around where
you may be and this helps sustain us. Thank you."
Clarence Mitchell: "Okay, Vatican Radio, please..."
Vatican Radio: "(inaudible) Vatican Radio but also Radio Merseyside. And
first of all I'd like to say on behalf of Radio Merseyside, and also the school that both you and I went to Kate, that everybody
sends their love and on behalf of the people of Liverpool, and on Radio Merseyside, we want to know what (inaudible)
can do to help?"
Gerry McCann: "We know that everyone is praying for us and that helps us.
Many, many thousands and tens of thousands of people are doing small things that may help and may make a difference
and we take strength from that. And it's this... you know, people have gone to extraordinary lengths to help us but it's even
the small... smallest things by the greatest number of people that, I think, will help us achieve the maximum, in terms of
publicity, around Madeleine's disappearance and... "
Kate McCann: "Everybodys assests are helping us, errm... whether it's through
practical, err... things or whether it's through prayer, everything is helping us and... and... it's helping
Madeleine, so... "
Clarence Mitchell: "Yep, this lady here."
Unknown: "(inaudible) I would like to ask you how long you will spend your
stay in Portugal and what do you expect the Vatican can do to help you?"
Kate McCann: "Well, all I can say, is we... we don't have any plans at all
to return back to the UK and I... I can't really think about that at the minute, to be honest."
Gerry McCann: "The Vatican have already done more than we could ever have
imagined - the fact that we are here, today."
Clarence Mitchell: "(inaudible)"
Reuters: "Phil (inaudible) from Reuters. You spoke just this morning before
you went into the audience and we all watched with emotion, I would say, errr... on the close circuit television
and we saw your brief encounter with the Pope. When you gave him that picture and held it up and he touched it and he blessed
it, could you each describe your feelings at that moment, please?"
Kate McCann: "I mean, it was very emotional but it's also a very positive
experience really. It's been very important to us and that photograph will stay with me now."
Gerry McCann: "It was more personal than I could ever possibly have imagined
it could have been and... there was, you know, recognition immediately in looking at Madeleine's photograph and his,
errr... touch and thoughts and words were more tender than we could have hoped and that will help sustain us during
this most difficult time."
Clarence Mitchell: "Gentleman over here."
Daily Mirror: "(inaudible) from the Daily Mirror. (inaudible)
Kate McCann: "Yeah, he was, errr... very kind, very sincere. He said
that he'd pray for us and our family and that he'd continue to pray for Madeleine's safe return to us."
Clarence Mitchell: "Over there."
Five News: "Jon Samuels from Five News.
What other plans do you have to visit other countries, possibly in Europe, go to other capital cities to... to spread
Gerry McCann: "We certainly were planning to do some visits and, errm...
this one, errr... came about quicker than we thought, errm... and it was so important to us that we have come here
first for spiritual reasons, more than any other. Errm... we are planning a visit to neighbouring Spain, errr... probably
with Madrid and although the arrangements are not finalised yet we would also plan trips in the very near future to Germany
and The Netherlands as the next two largest, errr... nationalities who, errr... go to the Algarve on holiday."
Clarence Mitchell: "(inaudible) row."
Vatican Radio: "Susie Hodges from Vatican Radio. How's this experience
changed you both as persons and as Catholics?"
Gerry McCann: "The latter is easier for me to, errm... answer,
errm... one evil act, errr... with the abduction of Madeleine seems to be generating so much good. And we seem to on the receiving
end of that goodwill and wishes and it's certainly restored my faith. The Catholic faith has given us strength but it's, errr... it's
restored my faith in humanity as much as anything else."
Kate McCann: "I mean, there's so much goodness out there that... been very
evident and it's really helped us."
Gerry McCann: "I think, just going back to your... your first point,
you know, we're still in the middle of a race that we don't know how long it's going to be and I can't say how we
will be changed by this experience. I think it's fair to say we'll never be the same again."
Clarence Mitchell: "Gentleman, the same row."
Unknown: "I'm from Germany - your side of the border. I just have a
short question: Do you know where you would go to Germany, which places which (inaudible) and second, errm...
close to the place where you brought us here, it's a very big German community. Do you have any contact with them?"
Gerry McCann: "Errm... deal again with the latter bit, errr... first.
We... we haven't specifically yet although we are planning, errm... probably one interview, errr... which we hope will
be pooled and shown to all of German broadcasters. And, at the minute, in the first, errr... wave of visits we...
we plan to go to capitals really, so that we can go in, errr... fairly quickly. All of these visits we want
to do as quickly and as efficiently as possible to get us back home to our twins who, I hope you understand, are only two-years
old and it's just not practical to be bringing them with us. We don't want to be leaving them but we feel this is the only
thing that we can really do, in our power, to help search for Madeleine."
Clarence Mitchell: "Any more questions? You've had one already. Gentleman
Unknown: "I'm (inaudible) from Swedish daily Aftonbladet of Stockholm.
Errr... I heard some voices that you might go to... over to Sweden, is that true? And also, errm... You
know, I've been in (inaudible) for a long time now and there so many cases of, errr... young, very young persons,
errr... displaced or they've just disappeared. What do you think, errr... what is the last news you have on... on the
Gerry McCann: "We have no immediate plans to go to Sweden and we hope and
pray that this will be over before we get to Scandanavia. Regarding the investigation, it is an ongoing, very active, investigation.
The police, Portuguese and the British police have a huge amount of information which is being processed, errr... which has
been generated by witness statements and by many different people coming forward following our very recent appeals, errr... by
the... the British police and the release of the description from the Portuguese police recently, so, we hope...
I mean, we know that there could be a breakthrough at any minute, it could be a call to say that Madeleine has been found
and we... we understand there are many different possible scenarios here but we must believe, and do believe, that we
can get Madeleine back, and with us."
Clarence Mitchell: "(inaudible aside to Gerry McCann)"
Gerry McCann: "I would say, you know, particularly as we are in Italy, that
we would... we are appealing to all nationalities and especially as we are here in Rome today that... please, you know,
just be on the look-out for any suspicious behaviour and for our daughter and there are numbers on these posters that can
be contacted, international ones, and it's something that we're asking everyone... a member of the public may give us the
key information that leads us to our daughter."
Clarence Mitchell: "This lady there."
Unknown: "(inaudible) I would like to know which one is the worst moment
during this for you and did you have any moments that you thought that the case was going to finish you were next
to your daughter and are you planning to visit also countries outside Europe - United States and Latin America?"
Gerry McCann: (aside to Kate McCann) "You want to answer the question?"
Kate McCann: "I think, certainly, the first, errm... 72 hours really, errr... were
the worst time for both of us. Errm... It's very hard, at that point, to sort of get away from all the dark places, errm...
but then as time goes on and, as I say, the support we've had, prayers that we've had everywhere - I mean, it really does
give you strength and hope. And since then we've... we've... we've been strong and we've been more positive and... it
was certainly those first 3 days that were hardest, yeah..."
Gerry McCann: "It's... it's fair to say that a line that we hear a lot
is that people can't imagine our pain and anguish but, I think, we have seen the effects of this on people close to us and
on friends and people who hardly know us and relatives who live hundreds and thousands of miles away and
the effects have been devastating and I would say that everyone knows, very closely, exactly how we felt.
"One of the worst feelings was helplessness and that we didn't feel that the search and the investigation for Madeleine
was under our control in any way and as we... if you understand, there is a fa... this is part of a family campaign for us
to feel that we are doing everything within our power and that has certainly helped sustain... sustain us."
Clarence Mitchell: "Daily Telegraph."
Daily Telegraph: "Richard from the Telegraph, hi. Errm... We talked about,
errr... (inaudible) I noticed you talked to him, errm... for a short period (inaudible) what you just said and
whether you can wrap up what you will take from this as you return now to Portugal?"
Kate McCann: "Errm... Well, I thanked him first of all for letting us
meet him today, errm... and I thanked him for his prayers. I mean it's been a very... it's been a lovely day, it's
been a very positive experience, errm... and it's... it's helped us. You know, I think it can only make us stronger
and lift us up more."
Gerry McCann: "It will also help our families tremendously, although
they are not here with us today they'll see this and we'll speak to them and, you know, there was a level of anticipation
and... you know, we have got very positive feelings from today and vibes and, errm... you know, that will help us."
Clarence Mitchell: "Just one or two more. Yep."
Unknown: "Yes, I just have a very short question. This toy that you
have on your table, was it Madeleine's? And how would she call it?
Kate McCann: "Errm... It was Madeleine's, yes. She took... she takes
it to bed with her every night or if she's upset or something she'll have it. It's... it's actually called 'Cuddle
Cat' - not very inventive, sorry. It was... it was actually the name of that... that... that it already had."
Gerry McCann: "It is a cat though. Ha, ha."
Clarence Mitchell: "Errr... I think, one more... one more? One more... one
more question and then I think, errr... we'll close. Yes."
Vatican Radio: "Susie Hodges from Vatican Radio. What lessons do you give
to other parents that have to go through this appalling experience?
Gerry McCann: "I... We hope and pray that no-one ever does go through it
again. Errm... I think... I hope that, if it does happen, that there will be some template, errr... from what we
have done, as our extended family, that will help raise the awareness for any other missing children and it's possible to
such cases. Having spoken, errm... to peop... you know, errr... people around us, then stayed strong and taking control even
of small things because you feel totally out of control in those first hours and taking control of this... of this smallest
decisions helps you cope and think rationally and influence things around you and that, I think, is the most important thing."
Clarence Mitchell: "(inaudible aside to Gerry) Agency. Do you want to?"
Gerry McCann: "Yep... We'll just finish by saying that, from this website...
the Find Madeleine.com website, there is also a link to CEOP, C E O P - which is the Child Exploitation and Online
Protection Agency, based in the United Kingdom - for anyone who is listening, who may have been in the Algarve, there
is a facility to upload photographs, particularly if you have any of, errr... people in the background of photographs who
you don't recognise and we would welcome these particularly in the two weeks leading up to Madeleine's abduction, so, the
two weeks prior to the third of May of this year. And any information will help the police investigation. Thank you."
Clarence Mitchell: "Thank you."
Maddy's parents leave for Vatican, 30 May 2007
By Richard Edwards and Fiona Govan in Praia da Luz
Last Updated: 2:10AM BST 02 Jun 2007
The parents of Madeleine McCann last night said an emotional farewell to their two-year-old twins as they left Portugal
together for the first time since their daughter's disappearance to visit the Pope.
Almost four weeks after Madeleine was abducted, Gerry and Kate McCann flew to Rome after receiving a formal invitation
from the Vatican.
Mrs McCann carried with her a small photograph of Madeleine which she will present to Pope Benedict XVI at a general
audience in St Peter's Square today.
For the 38-year-old mother, a devout catholic, it is a visit of conflicting emotions.
Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the family, said: "This is for them a very important spiritual visit, albeit in the
most appalling of circumstances. The tone will be private, serious and sombre."
Mr and Mrs McCann left their apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz yesterday afternoon, kissing goodbye to
their twins, Sean and Amelie. They hope to be back in time tonight to put them to bed.
They took more than a minute outside their apartment to kiss and wave goodbye to the twins, picking them up in turn and
hugging them closely, stroking their hair and talking quietly to them.
Mr McCann wiped away a tear as he walked towards the waiting car, arm-in-arm with his wife. The twins are being left
in the care of their aunt, Trish Cameron, and her husband, Sandy.
Mr Mitchell said: "They have decided not to take Sean and Amelie because they think it may be too much for them.
"They are being properly cared for in a safe environment. The kids might find the whole thing a bit stressful and they
are not sure it is fair to put them through it. They stick to their normal daily routine in Portugal.
"If they were a little bit older I think Gerry and Kate probably would take them."
It emerged last night that a British child psychologist is due to fly to Portugal this week in an attempt to talk to
the twins. It is hoped the expert may be able to coax out information about the night of Madeleine's disappearance. Sean and
Amelie were in their cots in the same room as their four-year-old sister when she was taken.
The visit to Rome is the first time Mr an Mrs McCann have left Portugal as a couple and they intend to use it as a "template"
for other trips as they continue their campaign to raise worldwide awareness about Madeleine.
They also plan trips to Madrid, Berlin and Amsterdam, where they intend to meet children's charities and government ministers
with a portfolio for child welfare.
Sir Philip Green, the British billionaire retail tycoon, has loaned his private jet to the McCanns for their visit to
Rome. Mr Mitchell said: "They are travelling around Europe for a reason: to help bring back Madeleine."
They have emphasised that they do not want to be seen as a "celebrity couple" and only accepted Sir Philip's "kind" offer
for practical reasons, and so that they could get back to see the twins as soon as possible.
Mr and Mrs McCann were greeted in Rome by the British ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, and stayed at his
residence. This morning they will attend a General Audience at the Vatican. It is believed the Pope will refer to Madeleine
"prominently" during prayers. As many as 40,000 people are expected to gather in St Peter's Square.
Once the main part of the audience has finished, he is introduced to around 25 carefully selected people.
As honoured guests, Kate and Gerry McCann will sit in the front row, known as the prima fila, normally reserved for heads
of state and dignitaries. The Pope will speak to them in English and may also invite them to a private audience afterwards.
Meanwhile detectives in Portugal investigating the disappearance of Madeleine faced renewed criticism yesterday when
it emerged they had released conflicting accounts of the witness description of a man seen carrying a child outside the McCanns'
holiday apartment at around the time Madeleine went missing.
It is understood that the witness, who had become friends with the McCanns during their holiday, told detectives that
the man she had seen was around 5ft 7in but in a press conference given last Friday police issued a description of a man some
three inches taller.
A police spokesman told Portuguese media the man they were looking for was around 1m 70cm (about 5ft 7in), but the English
language description issued at the same time put his height at 5ft 10in. It is believed that an "administrative error" in
converting measurements from metric to imperial led to the mistake.
"The police have made a mistake," a family source said yesterday. "It seems the details were lost in translation. What
has happened is that police have given out the description of quite a tall man when they should have been talking about someone
Madeleine's parents have audience with Pope, 30 May 2007
Madeleine's parents have audience with Pope
By Richard Edwards in Rome
Last Updated: 2:11AM BST 02 Jun 2007
Holding his hand as they asked him to bless their daughter, Kate and Gerry McCann today told how a "personal and tender"
moment with the Pope had given them renewed strength in the search for Madeleine.
One month after the four-year-old was abducted, her parents attended an emotional audience with the Pontiff in St Peter's
Square in Rome.
It had been a lifetime highlight to meet the Pope, but one "tinged" by the pain of knowing they were there because Madeleine
was missing, they said afterwards.
As a special papal blessing was offered to children and loved ones, both Mr and Mrs McCann wept. But they took solace
minutes later from spending a moment alone with the Pope and their prayers.
Afterwards, they insisted it had been a positive experience and provided strength for them spiritually as they continue
the hunt for their missing daughter.
Mr McCann said: "There was recognition from him immediately looking at Madeleine's photograph.
"His touch, and thoughts and words were more tender than we could have thought. It was more personal than I could have
imagined. That will help sustain us through this difficult time."
Mrs McCann spoke first to the Pope and passed him a photograph of Madeleine and her twin siblings to bless. She said:
"I thanked him first of all for letting us meet him and I thanked him for his prayers. That photograph will stay with us now.
"It was very emotional but also a very positive experience. It has only made us stronger and lifted us up more."
Asked what the Pope told her, Mrs McCann said: "He said he continued to pray for Madeleine's safe return to us. He was
very kind and sincere."
The trip to Rome marked the beginning of the couple's campaign to raise awareness of Madeleine's plight across Europe.
She was snatched on May 3 from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.
While the McCanns await developments in the Portuguese police investigation, they saw this meeting – and its worldwide
significance - as being their biggest opportunity yet to have an influence on bringing Madeleine home.
The couple, both Catholics, had received an invitation from the Vatican and sat in the Prima Fila – the front row
- twenty yards away from Pope Benedict XVI at Wednesday's regular General Audience. The seats are normally reserved for world
leaders and dignitaries.
Mrs McCann clutched two photos, a set of black rosary beads and Madeleine's favourite toy, Cuddle Cat. Along with her
husband, she shaded under a blue tartan umbrella from the hot morning sun.
For the first time in a month, they had a period of private reflection as they stood anonymously amongst thousands of
people, many of whom were cheering in a carnival style atmosphere as the Pontiff emerged.
In a 90-minute ceremony they remained silent, with heads bowed, trying to hold in their emotions. For one brief moment
they smiled as Mr McCann saw two nuns dressed in white looking down on them from the terrace of the papal apartments.
Mrs McCann's gaze lingered as she looked up at them and the heavens.
As the ceremony drew to a close, a priest and a cardinal approached them to offer their prayers. Mrs McCann was briefly
overcome on both occasions, dabbing at her eyes to dry the tears.
Their immediate grief laid bare, it was quickly transformed when the Pope finished the service and talked to them personally.
He recognised the photograph, and held Mrs McCann's hand as they talked, while her husband's hand gently squeezed her shoulder.
As the Pope walked away, the couple paused, capturing the moment in their minds. Mrs McCann had grown visibly in strength
At a press conference afterwards, they held up poster in Italian – and answered questions from journalists from
Portugal, Sweden, Spain, Germany and Italy. Mr McCann said the worldwide support has been unbelievable. "One evil act of the
abduction of Madeleine seems to have generated so much good," he said. "It has restored my faith in humanity."
The father added: "Meeting the Pontiff was an experience that has very mixed emotions for us. In ordinary circumstances
of course it would be the highlight of any Catholic to come and meet the Pope.
"Of course it is saddened with the very marked realization that our daughter is still missing. We know many people both
here and elsewhere are praying for our daughter and that helps us sustain out belief that we can get her back."
Mr McCann added: "We know that there could be a breakthrough at any time. We must believe and do believe that we can
get Madeleine back with us."
The couple, who live in Rothley, near Leicester, flew back to Portugal last night to be reunited with their two-year-old
twins Sean and Amelie. Seated behind the couple during the audience had been the British Ambassador to the Holy See Francis
Campbell and their Foreign Office liaison officer Clarence Mitchell.
Nearby, a group of 15 deacons from the UK offered their support. Richard Edwards, deacon of Our Lady of Lourdes, Queen
of Peace Roman Catholic Church in Brighton, said he knew they were coming today. The 53-year-old said: "You can only have
sympathy for them. It is hard to find words to describe what they are going through.
"We hope and pray there will be some good news. It was quite clear from the start that they have taken strength from
their faith. "It is an enormous privilege to meet the Pope from a spiritual point of view."
Media spotlight on Vatican to highlight Madeleine's case - but BBC cocks it up - again,
30 May 2007
Media spotlight on Vatican to highlight Madeleine's case - but BBC cocks it up - again
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
was a fascinating spectacle in Vatican City today as the world's media flocked to the Pope's Wednesday audience to
follow the horrific plight of the parents of Madeleine McCann, who went missing on the Algarve, Portugal, four weeks ago.
It's not often that British television news channels carry live coverage of the Pope's address in English
to the thousands of pilgrims that flock to the Vatican every week. But that's what happened today on Sky News.
Both Sky and BBC News 24 carried live pictures of Benedict XVI arriving in the Popemobile, bits and bobs of the audience,
and, of course, pictures of the Pontiff briefly meeting with the Gerry and Kate McCann.
But as usual – the
BBC cocked it up, living up to their usual lack of knowledge and understanding of the workings of the Catholic Church. Their
presenters appeared buffoon-like as they described the General Audience as "MASS" at least ten times.
was terribly frustrating to hear the two News 24 presenters make such a blatant error - so frustrating, that I sent the following
email to the corporation:
In your coverage of the Pope's GENERAL AUDIENCE this morning, you have, at least
10 times, referred to it as a Mass. IT IS NOTHING OF THE SORT. If it was a Mass, the Pope would be celebrating the Holy Eucharist
at an altar and be dressed in vestments, along with several hundred concelebrants.
The weekly Wednesday Audience
is simply that - a General Audience with the Pope.
Your inaccurate coverage is yet another example of how the
BBC is completely out of touch with how the Catholic Church and the Vatican functions.
Needless to say
I didn't get a reply.
But it just goes to show how they can get the simplest of things wrong.
watched a lot of it uninterrupted on EWTN (Channel 769 on Sky), which streams coverage live from CTV, the Vatican's television
network. My Italian is virtually non-existent (although I'm trying to pick up a bit via one of those "take off in
Italian" book and CD packs). But it was good enough to notice that the Italian commentator mentioned on several occasions
Madeleine's disappearance, the fact that her parents were Catholics and that they were present at today's audience.
Indeed, that was exactly the main reason for Gerry and Kate's visit, to raise the profile of the case amongst
the media. They were well aware of the popularity of the audience in predominantly Catholic countries - and the European media
responded. At the press conference hosted by the British Embassy and in St Peter's Square prior to the Audience, there
were numerous journalists from European nations covering the story. Undoubtedly, the story will be prominent in the Italian
Vatican Radio were also given prominence as the local media by Ambassador Francis Campbell at the
news conference. This is good as Vatican Radio stretches internationally across the world. (Incidentally, you can listen to
English World news at 17:15BST every day on the Vatican Radio website)
Of course, the other reason they went to
the Vatican was to seek comfort from the Holy Father and ask for his continuing prayers and support. The couple commented
on his touching words of comfort, support and assurance for prayers. They said they had found strength from their faith, not
least from the Catholic community. Gerry McCann said one evil act had brought out so much good in the way of prayers and support
for the family and spoke of how these experiences had helped his own faith.
Hats off to Cardinal Cormac Murphy
O'Connor and to Francis Campbell for organising the trip at such short notice (on Sunday). Let's hope and pray that
someone's memory will be jogged today or that whoever is responsible for the kidnapping were watching today and their
conscience was challenged.
In the Field: A meeting with the Pope, 31 May 2007
In the Field: A meeting with the Pope
From CNN's Rome Bureau Chief, Alessio Vinci
Thursday, May 31, 2007
I was perplexed when I got the call to cover the visit of Kate and Gerry McCann to the Vatican. The story about their
missing daughter, Madeleine, is huge in the UK and probably in Portugal, but over here in Italy and in the rest of Europe
it has been mentioned only on a few occasions, and I wondered why the Pope would single out this particular missing child
over the hundreds (if not thousands) who have disappeared around the world.
As a matter of fact there are three
prominent cases of missing children here in Italy, and we never heard a word about them from the pope, not even on International
Missing Children's Day (May 25.)
I made a quick call to the Vatican, and soon discovered that the McCanns were
not going to be received in a private audience, but would instead attend the Pope's weekly general audience, which is
an opportunity for tens of thousand of faithful visiting Rome each week to see him. I was also told the pope was not going
to mention their presence when he greets pilgrims from around the world in various languages, but that he would offer them
an "affectionate greeting" at the end of the audience.
The Vatican arranged for them to be seated in
an area closest to where the Pope speaks from. It's a good spot because usually at the end of the audience if the Pope
feels like it, he walks to the barrier and greets dozens of them who take along all sorts of gifts, pictures and other personal
objects, as a present to him or simply to have them blessed. The McCanns brought along a picture of their missing daughter
which the Pope blessed.
To any devout Catholic this a great opportunity to meet the pope up close and personal.
But I think it is also a private affair, a moment in which people seek and obtain spiritual strength and guidance. A 30-second
photo opportunity is unlikely to offer clues as to where Madeleine may be held, especially if this is being turned into a
media circus. Indeed, with the exception of those sitting right next to them, very few in St.Peter's square today knew
they were there. Vatican TV did show a few cut-aways of them sitting in the audience, but the Pope and Church officials did
not publicly mentioned their presence (as they did for example with the representatives of dozens of parishes and Catholic
institutions from around the world.)
In other words, I think the Pope did not want to become the latest player
in a relentless media campaign that has seen football players and prominent businessman appeal for her release. But that is
exactly what did happen, with headlines such as "Pope invites the McCanns" and "A papal audience" being
repeated over and over again.
I don't know what it must be like to have a missing daughter, but I can imagine
it is a horrible feeling. I would do anything, anything, to secure her release. The McCanns probably hope that local media
here will cover their visit and spread the word around Italy (where as I said most people don't know who Madeleine is.)
They know that the longer they can keep her picture on the front pages on newspapers around the world, the better chance they
will have to find her.
But I couldn't help thinking whether this over exposure may not be a bit unfair of
all those other missing children who have disappeared and don't get this attention.
'We want Maddy to be found... yesterday', 31 May 2007
'We want Maddy to be found... yesterday'
By Richard Edwards in Rome
Last Updated: 2:11AM BST 02 Jun 2007
It is four weeks since Kate and Gerry McCann last saw their daughter Madeleine. Twenty-eight days of moving between despair
and hope - and they still do not know whether they are at the end of their ordeal or still just at the beginning.
The couple's physical journey took them yesterday to Rome to meet the Pope, and they will move onwards to Madrid, Berlin
and Amsterdam. But it is scars from their emotional journey that are ever-present.
Mrs McCann summed it up in six devastatingly simple words: "I miss life as it was."
"We're still in the middle of a race but we do not know how long it is going to be," Mr McCann added: "I do not know
how we will have changed. But it is fair to say we will never be the same again."
The hardest part, they admit, is the unknown. "Every day is one day too long without Madeleine," said Mr McCann.
"We have got to get a resolution.
"It is hugely difficult. The first 48 hours was akin to having a bereavement. It was as though Madeleine had died. It
was anguish, despair, guilt, helplessness all falling into one.
"But it is different to a death, where you grieve and try to move on. Madeleine is not dead. We have been thrown into
an ongoing trauma, an ongoing crisis of the unknown.
"There are different emotions at different times and we are helping each other through this. We complement each other
well, we remain strong."
He added: "We have focused into how we can do positive things, to campaign. We are totally preoccupied as how to get
With the visit to see the Pope, the global campaign has reached, in Mr McCann's terms, stratospheric levels.
They flew to Rome in the private jet of Sir Philip Green, one of Britain's richest men, who had offered it for free to
help their cause. Prime Minister in waiting Gordon Brown is in mobile phone contact. They are lining up Government ministers
to visit across Europe. David Beckham and world footballers have appealed for help in finding their daughter and they have
received chat shows requests from Oprah Winfrey an Larry King in the US.
Wherever they go they are treated like royalty, followed by pilgrims, well-wishers and TV cameras. But the attention
does not sit easily with them, especially Mrs McCann. The couple are desperate for Madeleine's plight to be known worldwide
but they are wary of going too far, of being seen as a celebrity couple courting the publicity.
"It is all about Madeleine," said Mr McCann. Mrs McCann, in particular, struggles to hold in her emotions in front of
TV cameras. She wants to remain private, but she also wants to do the best for Madeleine by appearing in public.
"I do not like talking about this publicly but you've got to put your own feelings aside," she said.
"If we can be strong, strong for Madeleine, that will help get her back."
On Tuesday morning Mr and Mrs McCann had to go shopping for a suit. They had to look smart for the Pope. He and his wife
spent hours trying to find something appropriate in Algarve resorts dominated by T-shirts and shorts.
When they did, the hems on the trousers were too long and a tailor had to make adjustments. Ordinarily it could have
been a welcome distraction, but they found it strange to be fussing over such minor details.
"It was the last thing we needed really," said Mrs McCann.
It re-emphasised the truth: they are a very normal couple thrown into something extraordinary.
Mr McCann admitted that Saturday was his lowest day since the early days - the first time that both he and his wife have
had a "bad one" together.
He said: "You have lows. It's one of the things people do not realize. When negatives come in and affect you, you lose
some control, you've not got that outlet of emotion. But you know that it's detrimental to what you're trying to do today.
So you try to lock out the negative."
Mrs McCann admits she is more fragile. She said: "It's fair to say I find it harder to lock away the emotions."
They continue to plan, throwing themselves into it; but every moment they hope their plans are scrapped because they
receive some genuine news … the news they are waiting for, that Madeleine has been found.
Mr McCann said: "We want Madeleine to be found … yesterday."
Pope tells McCanns to 'have faith', 31 May 2007
Martin Fricker at The Vatican, 31/05/2007
THE Pope comforts the parents of missing Madeleine McCann in a meeting that gave them new hope their daughter would be
Devout Catholics Kate and Gerry McCann flew to Rome and stood tearfully in St Peter's Square as Benedict XVI held his
weekly audience in front of 35,000 followers.
Then came their emotional meeting. The Pope held Kate by both hands as Gerry bowed his head and kissed the Pontiff's
The couple, both in dark suits, talked with the Pope before he blessed a photograph of Madeleine.
Kate, with green and yellow ribbons in her hair, also showed him a picture of Madeleine with two-year-old twins Sean
The Pope, clearly moved, then put his arm around Kate as light rain began to fall. He also gave her five rosary beads.
During the ceremony, a butterfly landed on the ribbons in Kate's hair. It flew off - but came back again to settle on
her lapel. Kate later said: "It was really strange but lovely - like a symbol of hope."
After meeting the Pope, Kate, from Rothley, Leics, revealed: "He said he would pray for us and our family and that he
continued to pray for Madeleine's safe return to us. It was a very positive experience. I think it has only made us stronger
and lifted us up more."
Gerry added: "In ordinary circumstances it would be a highlight for any Catholic to meet the Pope.
"But, of course, it was saddened by the very marked realisation that our daughter is still missing. His touch and thoughts
and words were more tender than I could have thought. That will help sustain us through this most difficult time."
Madeleine was snatched 28 days ago from her parents' holiday apartment in the resort of Praia da Luz on Portugal's Algarve
The McCanns, who left their twins with relatives for the Vatican trip, plan to visit Spain, Holland, Morocco and Germany
to raise awareness of missing Madeleine.
Gerry added: "One evil act - the abduction of Madeleine - seems to have generated so much good. It has restored my faith
"We're still in the middle of a race but we do not know how long it is going to be. Madeleine is not dead. We have been
thrown into an ongoing trauma, an ongoing crisis of the unknown."
'His touch, words and thoughts were more tender than we could have hoped',
31 May 2007
'His touch, words and thoughts were more tender than we could have hoped' Clerical Whispers
Thursday, 31 May 2007
The parents of Madeleine McCann made an emotional and spiritual pilgrimage to the Vatican yesterday to pray with the
Pope for the return of their missing daughter.
The four-year-old vanished 27 days ago at the holiday resort of
Praia da Luz in the Algarve. Since then Kate and Gerry McCann have campaigned relentlessly to find her.
couple from Rothley, Leicestershire, met the Pope after he addressed a crowd of 30,000 people at his regular Wednesday audience
in St Peter's Square.
The meeting was arranged through Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of
Beforehand, the couple sat in the front row, both dressed in black. Mrs McCann had green and yellow
ribbons in her hair and wore a homemade green-and-yellow rosary around her neck with Madeleine's name spelt out in the
beads. She clutched Cuddle Cat, her daughter's favourite toy.
At times she closed her eyes, as though battling
with her composure. The couple comforted one another with occasional hugs.
Their most difficult moment appeared
to come when, during the ceremony, an English-speaking priest delivered a prayer to the crowd on behalf of the Pope, saying:
"In a special way his blessing goes to your children and your loved ones." The McCanns wiped tears from their bowed
After the Pope's homily the couple queued patiently behind a barrier as the Pope worked his way down
the line, speaking to the specially chosen few, touching them and accepting gifts from them.
When the McCanns'
turn came, their audience lasted all of 30 seconds. The Pope took a hand of each of them, looked them in the eye and said
with evident concern that he would pray for them. Mr McCann then kissed the Pope's hand.
When Mrs McCann offered
him a photograph of the smiling girl he took it and touched the image with his hand, as if to bless it.
behind the couple were Francis Campbell, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, and Clarence Mitchell, their Foreign Office
liaison officer. Near by, a group of 15 deacons from Britain offered their support.
Richard Edwards, deacon of
Our Lady of Lourdes, Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church in Brighton, said: "You can only have sympathy for them. We
hope and pray there will be some good news. It was quite clear from the start that they have taken strength from their faith.
It is an enormous privilege to meet the Pope from a spiritual point of view."
At the inevitable press conference
afterwards, held in the ambassador's residence, Mr McCann said of meeting the Pope: "It was more personal than I
could ever imagine. There was recognition immediately, looking at Madeleine's photograph.
His touch, words
and thoughts were more tender than we could have hoped, and will sustain us during this most difficult time."
Mrs McCann added: "It was very emotional but it was a very positive experience really. It has been very helpful to
us. He was very kind. He said he would pray for us and our family and continue to have faith in us."
the ceremony a butterfly had landed on the ribbons in her hair. It flew away and then returned minutes later to her lapel.
She said: "It was strange but lovely. It was like a small sign of hope."
The couple said that they had
mixed emotions about visiting the Vatican because the occasion was tinged by sadness.
Mr McCann said: "In
other circumstances it would be the highlight for any Catholic to meet the Pope. But it is tainted by the marked realisation
that our daughter is still missing."
He said the most difficult aspect of the abduction was not knowing where
Mrs McCann said: "The first 72 hours really were the worst time for both of us. It was hard to get
away from the dark places. But as time goes on the support we have had, and the prayers, really do give us strength and hope.
We are stronger and more positive."
The Vatican evidently considered the meeting important. Father Frederico
Lombardi, the Pope's spokesman, said that the couple were fervent Catholics.
Father Guido Todeschini, who heads
the Telepace televi-sion network, which films the Pope's audiences, said: "The Vatican hoped the meeting would be
of comfort to the family. Not just the Pope but the whole church is praying for the return of Madeleine."
McCanns then returned to Portugal to their two-year old twins, Sean and Amelie.
They have no plans to return to
Britain, but instead will visit Madrid, Berlin and Amsterdam to issue yet more pictures and appeals for information.
Madeleine: The McCanns' moment of hope with the Pope, 01 June 2007
|Madeleine: The McCanns' moment of hope with the Pope
By PAUL HARRIS
Last updated at 00:30 01 June 2007
For just under 30 seconds yesterday, hand-in-hand with the Pontiff, Kate and Gerry McCann were allowed to treasure one
moment of hope.
They handed him a photograph of their precious little girl Madeleine and watched him bless it with the Sign of the Cross.
Then they heard him promise to pray for the same happy ending they have dreamed of since Madeleine disappeared -
her safe return.
The brief audience with Pope Benedict in Vatican City placed an extraordinary crown on the McCanns' rolling campaign
to keep their four-year-old daughter in the public mind.
It is an emotional moment as Kate and husband Gerry McCann come face to face with the Pope in Rome
In any other circumstances, the trip to take front row seats in St Peter's Square might have been one of the most exciting
journeys they could have made in a lifetime, as Mr McCann put it.
Yesterday, it was one of the saddest. Their thoughts were only for Madeleine, still missing after 27 days. And that image
of her being carried away in the clutches of an abductor still lurks in their consciousness, no matter how hard they try to
be positive, no matter how much they pray.
But amid remarkable scenes, played out before a 35,000-strong crowd and a worldwide television audience, they were able
to draw comfort from what they described as the Holy Father's tender words and gentle touch.
Clearly moved by their torment, Benedict told them he would continue to pray for the family, and for them to be reunited
with their daughter soon.
He seemed instantly to recognise the picture of Madeleine - the same image, incidentally, which was already starting
to appear on "Missing" posters across Italy in the wake of the McCanns' first joint excursion outside Portugal since their
daughter disappeared from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on May 3.
The Pope takes Madeleine's picture from the distraught McCanns
The couple joined other pilgrims in St Peter's Square for more than an hour before their uniquely privileged meeting,
sitting just 20 yards from the Pope as he conducted his regular weekly audience.
Benedict made no mention of Madeleine during the 90-minute audience, but offered his "special blessing to children everywhere".
At one point, however, an English-speaking priest issued a prayer on behalf of the Pope, declaring to the crowd: "In a special
way, his blessing goes to your children and your loved ones."
Those words must have cut deeper into the McCanns than anyone else in the square. After weeks of stoically maintaining
their composure during public appearances, they bowed their heads and wiped away their tears.
Dr McCann, a 38-year-old Leicestershire GP, kept her eyes shut for much of the ceremony, possibly as much in pain as
in prayer. The now familiar green and yellow ribbons in her hair fluttered softly in the breeze.
Her left hand, as always, clasped Madeleine's pink "Cuddle Cat" ? the soft toy that has become Kate's last, poignant
connection to her missing daughter. Through her fingers she threaded a string of black rosary beads that had been given by
the Vatican to comemmorate their visit.
Mr McCann, a 38-year-old consultant cardiologist, never left her side and offered constant support. He squeezed her shoulder
from time to time and slipped his arm around her waist.
By the time Benedict found them in the front-row line-up, we feared she might almost collapse. Her breathing became erratic
and she swayed a little on her feet. But they both told us afterwards they took great strength from the moment. He held their
hands and allowed them each to kiss the Papal ring. "Will you please bless this photograph of Madeleine?" said Kate, holding
the portrait before the Pontiff.
Madeleine's cuddle cat, still being clutched by her mother
Watch her face when he touches the picture and it becomes clear just how spiritually important this visit must have been
to her. It's as if a wave of relief sweeps momentarily over her before evaporating into the Vatican sky.
Gerry offered his own photograph, of Madeleine and the twins, which the Pope also touched. The couple still had the pictures
with them when they returned to Portugal, one more tangible link to treasure as they continue their search for Madeleine.
Describing the meeting later, Mr McCann said: "It was more personal than I could ever imagine it could have been. His
touch, words and thoughts were more tender than we could have thought."
His wife added: "It was very emotional, but it was a very positive experience really. It has been very helpful to us.
He was very kind. He said he would pray for us and our family and continue to have faith for us."
The McCanns slotted in the Vatican visit before embarking on a wide-ranging publiciy campaign to spread the search across
Europe, and farther afield if necessary.
Around her neck, Kate was wearing a set of home-made yellow and green rosary beads with Madeleine's name spelt in them.
During the ceremony, a butterfly landed on her yellow and green hair ribbons, flew away - then returned minutes later
to her lapel. She said: "It was strange, but lovely. It was like a small sign of hope."
As they boarded the plane back to Portugal, they were still excited about the previous few hours. They said the moment
they met the Pope, it felt as though "time stood still".
A drawn Kate McCann next to a poster of missing Madeleine
They looked at photographs of their meeting with the Holy Father and reflected. Mr McCann said: "It was absolutely fantastic.
There's no doubt that for us it is still sinking in, but it's a totally uplifting experience."
He looked at his wife and told her: "I was struggling at times, as the Pope approached. But you were really strong."
Behind the undisguisable elation at yesterday's meeting, however, the McCanns are said to be desperately worried that
they will be seen as some kind of celebrity couple, embarking on a free world tour under an international spotlight. After
yesterday's remarkable scenes, it wasn't hard to realise why.
They had flown to Rome on a billionaire benefactor's luxury jet, stayed overnight in an ambassador's residence, and travelled
with a police escort and media entourage. Then they were granted the kind of access to the Pope that most Roman Catholics
could only imagine. The attention they attracted was akin to a royal visit.
So you had to keep reminding yourselves that these were decent, ordinary people in tragic, extraordinary circumstances.
And that the sole motivation for anything they have done these last four weeks has been to get their little girl back safely
in their arms.
Yet they will have to be extremely careful that this turning point in their campaign does not sway public opinion against
them. They must find a delicate balance between keeping Madeleine in the public mind, and avoiding criticism of the astonishing
combination of slick organisation, high-profile backing and seemingly limitless help that has been afforded them.
But it didn't take more than a moment in conversation with the two doctors to bring it all back to reality, as they began
to speak about the nightmare they are enduring behind their public front.
The strain shows on Kate's face as she fights to hold back tears
Still clutching Cuddle Cat, Kate gave a glimpse of the conflicting emotions that are tearing into their hearts -
the joy of meeting the Pope versus the constant reminder of why they were there.
She spoke at length about the pain of the weeks Madeleine has been missing. "The first 72 hours really were the worst
time for both of us," she said.
"It was hard at that point to get away from the dark places. The unknown remains the worst aspect. But as time goes on,
the support we have had, and the prayers, really do give us strength and hope."
She added: "Every day is one day too long without Madeleine. I actually feel guilty not thinking about her."
Someone asks if they feel they could forgive whoever has taken Madeleine. From the way they look at each other, it seems
as if it might be a subject they have discussed.
Gerry answers for both of them: "We'll think about that when we know what has happened. When we have got Madeleine back,
we will think about who took her and what happened."
And the future? "We're still in the middle of a race," says Gerry. "But we do not know how long it is going to be. I
do not know how we will have changed. But it's fair to say we will never be the same again."
28 May 2007
Confirmation arrived this evening that we are to attend the Vatican and a service with The Pope. It is likely we will
be seated in the front row and may have an opportunity to speak with the Holy Father and ask for prayers for Madeleine. This
is a hugely important visit both personally, for Kate and I, but also for the wider campaign to publicise Madeleine’s
disappearance. The trip has been facilitated through Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and we will be receiving assistance from
the British Embassy whilst in Rome. On this occasion because of the short notice and the relatively early time of the service
we have accepted the kind offer of the use of Sir Philip Green's personal jet, which will help get us home quickly after our
Papal visit to see the twins before their bedtime. We will be accompanied by a small group of media who are still with us
in Praia da Luz and, as usual all the material will be available to all the British press and broadcasters equally. For all
trips we are assessing whether commercial flights can get us to our destination and back to Portugal quickly. This will NOT
be a Tour- it is a series of very brief visits with the specific aim of raising awareness and we aim to get back here as quickly
We have decided that for the majority of trips it will not be practicable, or fair, to take Sean and
Amelie with us. They have an established routine which we do not want to disrupt and will be looked after by very close family.
Tonight for the first time they have gone to sleep in their own single beds, rather than cots, now that another two of our
family have gone home. We were planning to turn their cots at home into beds after our 1 week holiday but obviously this has
been delayed with Madeleine’s abduction. We have been in Praia da Luz for over 4 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!
of you may have seen on the news the huge inflatable billboard which has travelled all the way from the West of Scotland to
Portugal which will be used near busy roads/motorways to keep Madeleine's disappearance high profile. We had a brief chat
with Chris and Les, who drove almost non-stop from Glasgow to get here. The extraordinary length ordinary people are going
to help us is truly overwhelming. We thank everyone for their efforts, no matter how small, and we know this will make a difference
in our search for Madeleine.
29 May 2007
We have been preoccupied with preparation for our audience with the Pope tomoorow morning. This morning was spent acquiring
some appropriate dress for the meeting since we had only holiday clothes with us in Portugal. Clarence has been inundated
with calls regarding the visit to Rome and done most of the organisation behind the scenes.
It has been very difficult to leave Sean and Amelie but it is only for one nght and we will be back to see them before
bedtime tomorrow. Trish and Sandy (Madeleine's Godparents) who have been with us in Portugal since Day 2 are looking after
them and we were surprised to hear they were tucked up in bed by 7.30pm- they must like their new beds!
The flight to Rome passed extremely quickly and some footage was taken for TV. We did a couple of short interviews for
the British and Portuguesae press about our feelings regarding the trip. Under normal circumstances we would be extremely
excited about meeting the Pope, but as we are here as a result of Madeleine's abduction the circumstances are very different.
We expect to receive a great spiritual lift, especially if we get to speak to the Pontiff personally. After the audience we
will be holding a short press conference in the British Embassy to the Vatican to talk about our campaign to publicise Madeleine’s
disappearance and of course, our audience with the Pope.
Frncis Campbell, the British ambassador to the Holy See, and his staff picked us at the airport and brought us directly
to the Embassy residences near the city centre. We have been made to feel completely at ease and almost as if we are part
of a small family here, which has helped ease our tangible nerves, not unsurprising given the importance of tomorrow's meeting.
We are now retiring and will be saying our usual prayers for Madeleine’s safe return
30 May 2007
Today has gone as well as we could possibly imagine.
We woke around 7.15am and got ourselves ready. There was a lovely continental breakfast prepared but both Kate and I
ate very little due to nerves. We left the Embassy just after 9.00am and stopped en route to the Vatican, at Piazza Pia for
a photo opportunity with St Peters in the distance. I made a very short statement regarding our forthcoming visit and expressed
my gratitude to Francis Campbell, the British Ambassador to the Vatican, and his staff for making us feel as if we were part
of their family.
We arrived in plenty of time for the Papal audience and were delighted to find we were seated in the 'Prima Fila'- the
first row. Clarence, Francis and Monsingneur Charlie Burns, a colourful Glaswegian who teaches at the seminary and looks after
the Ambassador's spiritual well being were seated immediately behind us. It was extremely sunny and I have to admit that Kate
and I were struggling somewhat with the heat in our dark suits but Francis rescued us with an umbrella and some water and
following that some heavy cloud rolled in, cooling us down.
The atmosphere in St Peter's square was almost carnival like with up to 35,000 people there to see the Pope. He did not
disappoint, driving slowly around the crowd in his open jeep, waving cheerfully. We were sombre in contrast given that we
were there to ask Benedict to pray for Madeleine, although I am sure others were also there to get blessings for their loved
ones. After this the Pontiff took his seat in front of approximately 30 cardinals, bishops and priests. One of the priests,
Father Daniel Gallagher from the US, came up to us before the service and said some very kind words; that he was praying and
everyone was praying for Madeleine daily.
The service started with a series of addresses from priests representing the various French, German, Italian, English,
Spanish and Polish speaking congregations present. Each parish represented was mentioned and various bands, mainly German,
played short pieces and a few choirs sang a verse and the large Polish contingent priests seated behind us wearing large yellow
scarves tied like ribbons around theirs necks sang 3 or 4! At the end of this preamble the priest stated that the Pope was
happy to tell us he was praying for the congregation, our families, our children and those who were suffering. These words
seemed so poignant in the light of Madeleine’s abduction and naturally both Kate and I were, naturally, very emotional.
The Pope's actual address seemed to pass in a blur and I am looking forward to reading the actual transcript as I can remember
very little of the actual words.
Following the completion of the Papal address in the different languages, Benedict individually greeted the other clergy
on the dias. During this period Father Gallagher presented us with a small gift to remind us that he would pray daily for
Madeleine and a cardinal also expressed similar sentiments. The Pope took approximately 20 minutes to meet other people in
the Prima Fila before reaching us. It felt as if time stood still for a moment when the Pope looked into our faces and there
was almost instant recognition and a change in his expression. He said he would pray for us, our family and Madeleine. Kate
passed him a photograph of Madeleine and he blessed this and would pray for her safe returning. The meeting was more personal
than we could have imagined given the number of people there and will help us sustain our hope and determination to find Madeleine.
The press conference followed shortly afterwards and was very well attended. We will give more details tomorrow as we
are very tired following our visit and hope to get an early night before planning our next trip.
31 May 2007
Press conference in Rome went very well giving us an excellent forum to ask for help in the search for Madeleine. We
told people about the website, how to download posters and ask people to print them and take on holiday wherever they are.
We arrived in Madrid late last night and have a series of meetings arranged with government and non government agencies
concerned with child welfare. We will also be hosting a press conference again to raise general awareness of Madeleine´s disappearance
and ask for the public´s help in our search for Madeleine. We may also do a few very short interviews for US news stations
which are widely broadcast in Europe, N.Africa and Asia, particularly in English speaking hotels and other outlets. Will update
27 May 2007
Clarence spoke to us about a possible trip to the Vatican. It seems that it really is going to happen—main
story on the news!
28 May 2007
I felt somewhat concerned. This is going to be a little too much, I only want Madeleine back and to return to our normal
30 May 2007
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in his "pope mobile" waving to everyone. It immediately became clear that he recognised us.
He took hold of our hands and he was so gentle, so sincere.
I thanked him for having allowed us to
be there with him. He said he would pray for us and that he would continue to pray for Madeleine and for her safe return.
I gave him the photo of Madeleine—he blessed it (with the thumb)—something that we would be able to keep for ever.
A shy man but very friendly.
Very emotional, very positive, very important—charming.
Please, God, bring back to us little Madeleine. We love her so much and we miss her so much. Please Lord,
help us to be united once again shortly as a family.
Later on, Clarence told me that, before that (meeting the Pope), a butterfly had flown above and had landed
on the bow on my hair.
Following on, it left, but it came back and landed on my lapel. An omen, we hope.
Clarence Mitchell pushes his way in to shake the Pope's
A hand appears on the railing beside Kate and Gerry Mccann
Hand rises quickly as the Pope approaches
Hand grabs the Popes hand
Hand vigourously shakes with the Pope
Hand immediately lets go of the Popes hand
Hand is quickly pulled away
Hands owner still not identifiable
Owner of hand now revealed as Clarence Mitchell
Master of media circus for Madeleine McCann
Last Updated: 7:27PM BST 24 Apr 2008
'Mitchell was, as usual, only a few feet away from the couple when they met the Pope in St Peter's Square. He was
so overcome he reached out to grasp the papal hand and was rewarded with a blessing and a set of rosary beads from one of
the priests in the Pontiff's retinue.'
And a postscript...
Ditched by their Pope, 16 September 2007
IF anything is to shake the McCanns' unswerving Catholic faith, it must be the Pope ditching them from the Vatican website.
In their dark hours, it was faith that kept them going. They had nowhere else to go.
They took their torment to the very seat of their faith - to the Vatican, where the Pope held their hands and told them
he would pray for them. They seemed to gain great strength from that.
But now, in their hour of need, like Pontius Pilate, he has washed his hands of them. A whiff of guilt, and the Catholic
hierarchy distance themselves. And this from an organisation built on guilt and hypocrisy.
This, from an organisation that for generations swept sexual abuse under the carpet, and gave shelter to paedophile priests
who ruined hundreds of lives, from Glasgow to Boston to Donegal.
Shame on them.
Of course, the Vatican will say they constantly update their website on world events. Rubbish.
This extraordinary drama will be one of the most significant events in recent history.
But, like the Vatican, as much as the world seemed united in sorrow and support for Gerry and Kate, now the worm is turning.
And there is a condemnation mindset creeping in that is sickening to watch.
I was never comfortable with the media circus that has surrounded this tragedy. I think they were ill-advised by dubious
media and PR people. I always had a feeling their highprofile campaign would come back to haunt them.
I remain convinced that they are innocent. To consider any other notion would be to abandon my faith in the human race.
But from early on, you could see the slick campaign didn't strike the same supportive chord with everyone.
But is it not enough to live with the knowledge, as they will for the rest of their lives, that they failed their daughter
by not being there when the abductor struck? Is that not punishment enough?
And now we have the cynical media turning and hedging its bets. The hours have yet to get darker for the McCanns. I firmly
believe there is a witch-hunt going on. Of course, none of us can prove that the McCanns were not involved in their daughter's
disappearance. But what happened to innocent until proved guilty?
If Madeleine WAS killed accidentally, then where did the parents hide the body? A corpse would go off in the heat in
a matter of days, never mind weeks.
So, are we to believe the McCanns stored their daughter's body in the freezer of their holiday apartment, then stole
out in the dead of night, away from the media glare, and moved it?
And, as for any DNA the Portuguese cops come up with, as far as I am concerned, all of their evidence is tainted.
Portuguese police have never found the body of an eight-year-old girl who disappeared nearby in similar circumstances
in 2004. Her uncle and mother were jailed for the murder, but five police officers have now been accused of forcing a confession
out of them.
Most of our hearts are bleeding for this couple. Their lives are ruined, no matter what the outcome. You would have thought
the one lifeline they could have depended on to the bitter end would be the Catholic Church.
Presumably someone has been in touch with the authorities. It wouldn't do for the Catholic Church to lose its absolute
grip on a country so slavishly devout as Portugal.
Rather than turn our backs on this desperate couple, it's time we all got behind them. Our politicians should step in
and ask questions.
I don't want to hear guarded comments from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith saying she hopes the Portuguese investigation
will find Madeleine. I want her to express disgust at how the cops are drip-feeding the Portuguese media with lurid titbits
for their front pages.
And I hope, if charges should come, that before she allows this couple to be extradited, she makes sure they are not
being stitched up so that Portugal can escape this unsavoury spotlight that history will remember them for.