Philomena Lee Meets the Pope

Philomena Project
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

The subject of the Weinstein Co.’s “Philomena” met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, an unusual encounter that added to the publicity surrounding the movie in the midst of the Oscar race.

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.

As unusual as the meeting was, it also is impossible not to view it as perfectly timed to build momentum in the Oscar race. The merging of on-screen social issues with off-screen events is now a given in the weeks leading up to the awards. Last year, for instance, Bradley Cooper and David O. Russell met with Vice President Joseph Biden to talk about the state of mental health, as “Silver Linings Playbook” was in contention.

The Pope’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, seemed to address this on Tuesday, when he told reporters, “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.” Nevertheless, there were reports that a screening would be held at the Vatican.

At a press conference last August when the film premiered at the Venice Film Festival, director Stephen Frears said he was eager for the pope to see it. When asked why, he responded, “He seems like a rather good bloke, the pope.”

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  1. I Laugh at the thought of this being “Perfectly Timed” as if one could get an audience with the poepe,just like that,haha.I think surely it’s Divine Intervention,in so very many ways.For the past 3 years,Ive been struggling to write my own wild story of which adoption is very much a part of it.I was born in 1963,those days they didnt have MTVG celebrating teenage parenthood,mothers were forced to relinquish their children.I was adopted into a wonderful family,yet every Birthday was painful and I looked for my mother in every stranger’s face.I just had to find her and I knew she felt the same way too.Despite the law,which seals adoption records,I was very determined and found her.Her and my mother were teens ,deeply in love and went to the loacal preist asking to be married.He in turn called her parents and they put her in a home for unwed mothers in NYC,and I was adopted a week after I was born in a well known Catholic agnecy still in existance in manhattan.My birthparents went onto marry and have 2 more children.I didnt just find my mother,I found an entire family and was living next door to my cousin.So,much more to say,but I will say this.,In many ways,I felt a victim,in fact my birthmother was the victim as she suffered for many many years.I found her 18 yrs ago,and this weekend,she is taking me to the town in NY she grew up in,Pearl River NY>We have a very happy ending and it breaks my heart Philomena didnnt.I hope this movie wins the Oscar and it reunites many many mothers with their children.Harvery Weinstein is the man and my hero.I thank him from the bottom of my heart for all the great things that will come from making this movie

  2. I think that the Church, like the Politicians, should develop an honesty and transparency which would create a more solid foundation for Faith, especially for people like me who distrust organised religion. I like Pope Francis who could be quite instrumental in cleaning up the Vatican and creating a newer and fresher wind of change.

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