Pope Benedict, according to the Guardian, has expressed a desire to meet with the parents of the missing four-year-old Madeline McCann. The couple has drawn strength from their Catholic faith throughout the ordeal of their daughterâs disappearance on May 3rd.
"We are currently exploring the possibility of a visit by Gerry and Kate McCann to meet the Pope in Rome in the near future," family spokesman Clarence Mitchell confirmed yesterday.
A meeting with the Pope would be "profoundly important" to the couple and would help strengthen the faith to which they have publicly turned in recent weeks, according to the Guardian.
The couple is making efforts to expand the reach of the search for their daughter beyond Portugal to other parts of Europe with the help of grassroots Catholic groups and other organizations.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster, has been working to arrange a visit with the Pope so that Benedict can have the opportunity to support the couple with his prayers and encouragement.
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.
"The cardinal also assured Dr McCann of his prayers for the safe release of Madeleine and for the rest of the family."
The couple plans to also travel to Spain, Germany and Holland in their search for their daughter. They have been offered the use of a private jet by a British entrepreneur and have raised a substantial amount to mount a more widespread search.
The family's first campaign victory, apart from keeping Madeleine's name and picture in the news, was to force Portuguese police to finally release a description of a man believed to have carried a child away from the apartments where Madeleine vanished.
The woman who saw the man is a friend of the McCann family and dined with them that night. She was reported yesterday to be wracked with guilt that she did nothing to stop the man.
"She thought it was odd, but thought it was the man's own child," a police source told the Press Association. "He was walking urgently, neither running or walking."