Wednesday 17 January 2018

'Philomena' misleading and doesn't tell whole truth – nuns

Judi Dench
Judi Dench

Sarah MacDonald

THE nuns who ran the mother-and-baby home portrayed in newly released film 'Philomena' have described it as "very misleading".

They have also questioned the accuracy of the portrayal of the nun who ran Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary.

"We do feel however that the film, even though it is not a documentary, does not tell the whole truth and in many ways is very misleading," Sr Julie Rose of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary told the Irish Independent.

The film follows Philomena Lee, played by Oscar-winning Judi Dench, an Irishwoman in her seventies, who became pregnant as a teenager in 1952. Her family sent her to a convent in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, and when her son Anthony was three he was adopted from the Roscrea mother-and-baby home to a family in the US.

It follows her hunt to be reunited with her son, which leads her to meet ex-BBC reporter Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan, who joins her on the search and pens a book on it.

The order is particularly concerned over the film's depiction of their nuns as obstructing Philomena Lee's and her son's efforts to locate each other and its insinuation that records were burnt.

The film also alludes to a fee being paid to the order by the adopting family in the US.

Sr Rose rejected the claims: "We did not receive any payment of any nature in respect of any adoption." She also asserted "the congregation did not destroy any records held by them over the years".

The order's nuns also denied that they had blocked attempts by adopted children to access records.

Referring to the legal constraints imposed on the congregation regarding their records, a spokeswoman said it was obliged not to divulge any information held on file to the children who were adopted "as this information was confidential to their mother".

She said it was only with the "consent of the mother" that the records could be released to the children.

She claimed contact between mother and child was facilitated by the congregation where both parties agreed, and many people had been helped to trace their loved ones.

All of the congregation's records were handed over to the HSE two years ago.

Irish Independent

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