Woman Who Inspired the film Philomena Got an Audience With The Pope


Philomena Lee, the woman behind the Oscar-nominated film Philomena, was granted an audience with Pope Francis earlier this week.

According to Variety, she was joined by one of the film’s stars, too:

Philomena Lee, whose son was sold for adoption by nuns in the 1950s,
met with the Pope after Mass in St. Peter’s Square, along with her
daughter and Steve Coogan, one of the stars of the movie and its
producer and co-writer. Last week, Lee was in Washington to meet with
lawmakers about the Philomena project, in which she is pressing the
Irish government to open up adoption information as well as procedures
to reunite families. The meeting was all the more extraordinary in that
some have characterized the movie as anti-Catholic, though the
filmmakers rebut that it is very pro-faith.

Variety makes the point that this is could be a move timed to coincide with the film’s Oscar campaign, but the Pope’s spokesperson reminded everyone that he is a robot that does not require human forms of entertainment. “The Holy Father does not see films, and will not be seeing this one. It
is also important to avoid using the Pope as part of a marketing
strategy,” said Father Federico Lombardi. Although there were rumors the film screened inside the Vatican. But no one is calling the Pope a liar, OK?

After the meeting, The Guardian reports Lee was happy to have the meeting:

“I am honoured and delighted to have been in the presence of Pope
Francis today. As the film portrays, I have always put great faith in
the Church and the good will to put the wrongs of the past right. I hope
and believe that his Holiness Pope Francis joins me in the fight to
help the thousands of mothers and children who need closure on their own

For those that haven’t seen the film, ABC News has spoilers, so click with caution if you haven’t seen it. No spoilers here in the description of her story that became the basis for the film though:

Back in 1952, Lee was 18 years old, unmarried and pregnant. She gave
birth to a son in an Irish home for unwed mothers and, told what she had
done was shameful, was forced to give up her son, whom she named
Anthony, three years after his birth. For 50 years afterward, she would periodically return to the home to try
to get word of her son, but she never told anyone else about what
happened because she felt ashamed.

The Guardian reports that the film has not been free from controversy within in the Catholic community:

Although Philomena as broadly been received as a tribute to faith, controversy has surrounded the film’s portrayal of the sisters who sold Lee’s child.
“We do feel that the film, even though it is not a documentary, does
not tell the whole truth and in many ways is very misleading,” said
Sister Julie Rose of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Roscrea,
County Tipperary, where Philomena and Anthony stayed.

Lee worked with BBC reporter Martin Sixsmith to track down her son. For the rest of the story, check out the film, starring Dame Judy Dench. The film is up for four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress.

Image via Getty.

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