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The television version of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall is the latest account to challenge St Thomas More’s reputation as a courageous defender of the rights of conscience. Was he, in truth, a liberal icon, a religious fanatic or something in between?
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The Vatican’s spokesman has responded to rumours that the makers of the Oscar-nominated film, Philomena, have invited the Pope to a private screening by saying Francis would not accept such an invitation.
Fr Federico Lombardi accused the producers of the film of using Francis as a “marketing strategy”.
“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,” he said.
The film tells the story of Philomena Lee’s attempts to be reunited with her son who was taken from her in the 1950s by Irish nuns and given for adoption to a family in the US.
Philomena – based on a book by journalist and former New Labour spin doctor Martin Sixsmith – stars Dame Judi Dench in the title role and Steve Coogan as Sixsmith. Coogan also helped produce the film and write the screenplay.
The order portrayed in the film, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, accused the makers of falsely creating a scene that showed one of their sisters in a profoundly negative light.
Philomena has been nominated for a raft of Oscars including best film, best actress for Dame Judi Dench and best adapted screenplay for writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.
Ms Lee, a Catholic, has denied that the film is anti-Catholic.