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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Pope meets parents of Madeleine
McCanns meeting the Pope
The Pope blessed a photograph of Madeleine

The parents of Madeleine McCann have met Pope Benedict in Rome and had a photograph of the abducted four-year-old blessed by him.

Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley in Leicestershire, spoke briefly to the Pope as he met selected worshippers after his weekly audience.

Afterwards, Mr McCann said the meeting had been a positive experience for him and his wife.

Madeleine disappeared during a family holiday in Portugal on 3 May.

Her parents, who are devout Catholics, flew to Rome from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz in tycoon Sir Philip Green's private jet.

'Mixed emotions'

The general audience given by Pope Benedict XVI takes place every Wednesday and is held in St Peter's Square during the summer months. About 25,000 people were at the audience attended by the McCanns.

Mrs McCann showed the Pope a photograph of Madeleine when she met him, which he blessed. He put his hand on the arms of both parents during the emotional meeting.

In ordinary circumstances it would be a highlight for any Catholic to meet the Pope
Gerry McCann

At a later press conference, Mr McCann said: "Today, meeting the Pontiff was an experience that has caused very mixed emotions for us.

"In ordinary circumstances it would be a highlight for any Catholic to meet the Pope. Of course it's saddened by the marked realisation that our daughter is still missing.

"We know people everywhere are praying for our daughter and that helps sustain our belief that we can get her back safely."

Mr McCann said the goodness that had been generated by "one evil act" had restored his faith.

The McCanns reiterated their appeal for information on Madeleine and urged people to visit their website, www.findmadeleine.com.

Height mistake

The McCanns, both 38, are staying at the residency of the British ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell.

They have left their two-year-old twins in the Algarve with Mr McCann's sister, Trish Cameron, and her husband Sandy, deciding they were too young to take on the trip to Italy.

The couple are also due to visit Spain, the Netherlands, Morocco and Germany to raise awareness of their daughter's disappearance.

This week the family released the last video clips taken of their daughter before her abduction.

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

But the family said on Tuesday that police had got a crucial fact wrong in the description of the man.

The height of the man given on the Portuguese press release was 170cm (5ft 7in) but it mistakenly appeared as 5ft 10in in the English version.

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