Philomena Lee, the woman who inspired the recent Oscar-nominated movie "Philomena", starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, had an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Tuesday afternoon.
According to a spokesperson at the Vatican that while Pope Francis does not watch movies, the fact he agreed to meet Ms Lee is likely to ease allegations from the US that Philomena is an anti-Catholic movie.
Vatican advisors say, he would never have consented to the meeting if he did not accept its sentiments.
The movie is based on the true story of Philomena Lee’s determined search for her son who was given up for adoption in the 1950s in Ireland.
While at the Vatican Lee called on Pope Francis to help the thousands of mothers who are waiting for answers on their own situations.
Afterwards she said “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 stories.”
Philomena Lee (80), along with her daughter Jane Libberton as well as the star of the movie Steve Coogan, attended the audience. They were in Rome to promote the Philomena Project, a lobby group to pressure the Irish Government to release information surrounding adoptions in Catholic Ireland and to help reunite mothers separated from their children.
Lee’s son Anthony who was given up for adoption in the US, at age three, was born in 1952 in what was known as ‘a mother and baby home’ in Roscrea, County Tipperary.
He was renamed Michael Hess by his adoptive family and became senior counsel to the Reagan and Bush White House administrations.
Both Hess and Lee spent years searching for one another. He tragically died of AIDS in 1995 before they could be reunited.
"Philomena", the movie, tells the story of the nuns involved in the adoption. With the exception of one Sister, the rest are shown as heartless liars. The movie also shows Lee holding on to her faith despite what happened.
Speaking after the audience with the Pope, Lee said “I am honored 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”.
Here's the ABC report:
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Here's the trailer for Dame Judi Dench, Steve Coogan movie "Philomena":