By: CECÍLIA PIRES
PRAIA DA Luz church is receiving the image of Our Lady of Fátima on Monday, December 18, in a special visit to the region and this is the reason why ribbons and images of Madeleine McCann have been temporarily removed from its interior, according to father José Manuel Pacheco, the local catholic priest .
Praia da Luz’s community “has not forgotten the little British girl and special prayers are still being held every Friday,” father José Manuel Pacheco told The Resident.
The catholic priest was reacting to reports in the UK’s Daily Express in which he is said to have “ordered the removal of scores of green and yellow ribbons which were put up as a symbol of hope in the days after Madeleine vanished”. The British newspaper quotes a “close friend to the priest” as saying that the latter “can’t even hear the Madeleine case mentioned without becoming irate.” A statement that father José Manuel Pacheco describes as “barbarity” and a “lie”. “I do not know who that ‘friend’ might be, but I doubt such person is my friend”, he told The Resident.
Father José Manuel Pacheco ensures that “priests have no power to order anything in our churches. We have an entity for that, which is the Conselho Pastoral, where the catholic community is represented”.
With regards to the key to Praia da Luz church that the McCanns were given after Madeleine went missing, so that the couple could pray in privacy, “that was a decision made by the Conselho Pastoral and I only knew about it three days later”.
Father José Manuel Pacheco said: “Madeleine McCann’s parents know that we support them and that is the most important thing. The family kept very close and good relations with the church and its representatives in Praia da Luz”.
Madeleine McCann has now been missing for 225 days and her parents renew appeals every day looking for “that piece of information” that will lead to her being found. In contrast, the police investigation being carried out in Portugal continues to focus on the couple as the main suspects for her probable death.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Madeleine McCann, please contact the McCann helpline on +34 902 300 213 or the Portuguese Police on +351 282 405 400.
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