05 February 2014, The Tablet

Francis meets real-life Philomena, subject of Oscar-nominated film

Pope Francis meets Philomena Lee and Steve CooganPope Francis has met Philomena Lee, the woman whose son was put up for adoption by nuns in 1955, and whose story has been made into an Oscar-nominated film starring and co-written by Steve Coogan.

Ms Lee, 80, was accompanied by Mr Coogan and her daughter Jane Libberton. Last month she launched The Philomena Project, which aims to pressure the Irish Government into releasing files on forced adoptions.

The Pope was introduced to her after the General Audience in St Peter’s Square in Rome today. Philomena, which its makers say is materially true, details Ms Lee and journalist Martin Sixsmith’s search for her son.

Ms Lee, a Catholic, travelled to Rome at the invitation of the Vatican to meet the Pope, ABC News reported.

The film shows the sisters as obstructive to Philomena’s efforts to find her son but the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Roscrea, County Tipperary, told The Tablet that the film-makers falsely created a scene that showed one of their sisters in a profoundly negative light.

Ms Lee has denied that the film is anti-Catholic.

Yesterday the Holy See spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, insisted that Francis would not watch the film.

He was responding to rumours that the film-makers had invited him to a private screening.

“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 insisted.

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.

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