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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 May 2007, 20:54 GMT 21:54 UK
Madeleine parents to see the Pope
Kate McCann and her daughter Amelie (PA/Sunday Mirror)
The McCanns say they have drawn strength from their twins
The parents of four-year-old Madeleine McCann are set to visit the Pope to discuss the plight of their daughter, who vanished 24 days ago.

Gerry and Kate McCann are expected to attend a general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is helping arrange for the McCanns' visit.

Meanwhile, Portuguese police have received hundreds of calls after they released a description of a man seen near the McCanns' holiday flat.

5ft 10ins
Medium build
Short hair
Wearing a dark jacket, beige trousers and dark shoes
Carrying "a child or an object that could have been taken as a child"

A spokesperson for Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: "The cardinal is conscious of the prayers of the entire Catholic community in this country for the McCann family at this distressing time.

"Having spoken to Dr Gerry McCann, the cardinal is facilitating the presence of the McCanns at an audience with the Holy Father as soon as is feasible.

"The cardinal also assured Dr McCann of his prayers for the safe release of Madeleine and for the rest of the family."


Portuguese police said they released the description of the man seen on the night Madeleine was taken from her family's apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, to eliminate false leads.

He is described as white, 5ft 10ins, medium build with short hair.

It is understood the description came from a friend of the McCanns who saw a man who may have been carrying a child on the night Madeleine disappeared.

But Briton Robert Murat, the only official suspect in the case, has criticised the description for being too vague to rule him out.

Mr Murat said: "It isn't me. But the description is so vague that it won't put me out of the picture."

"I hope that I will soon be in a position to clear my name."

He denies any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance on the night of 3 May.

Mr Murat has been questioned by police but has not been charged.

'Terrifying moment'

Mrs McCann told how she and her husband cannot now bear to be parted from their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie at night now and sleep with them in their bed.

Mrs McCann said: "They help us to get through this. We are a strong family and they were so close to Madeleine, only 20 months apart."

Madeleine McCann
This photograph was taken the day before Madeleine disappeared

Mrs McCann, 38, described how the couple had struggled to have children and had waited five years for a baby.

When Madeleine arrived she was "absolutely everything" to them, she said.

Describing the "terrifying" moment Madeleine had been taken, she said: "You just don't expect in a million years that this could happen."

But Mr McCann said he still "truly believed" his daughter was alive.

A fund set up to help find her and highlight the issue of missing children, has now raised more than 320,000.

Overhead view of resort

McCann family spokesman on moves to visit the Pope


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