Saturday, 9 November 2013

The almost true

I took this photograph 21 years ago at the official opening of Glenfall House, by the short-lived Bishop Peter of Gloucester: Sister Frideswide was one of the Anglican sisters who had occupied the house as their convent prior to the Diocese taking it over. Here she is enjoying a dish of strawberries and cream.

We saw "Philomena" this evening, the film based on Martin Sixsmith's book, "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee", about the forcible separation of a mother and child by the (Catholic) nuns of an Irish convent during the 1950s, and the subsequent attempts of the mother and child to contact one another. It's magic to watch. But it makes three contested points, without which it would undoubtedly have less impact.

First, it alleges the nuns willfully destroyed records that would have helped mothers and children to become reunited. Secondly, it says the nuns received payment from those adopting children. On both counts, the Order of nuns has issued a vehement denial.

And thirdly it portrays one of the nuns fiercely condemning the eponymous heroine for giving into her "carnal" desires - the nun in question having died almost a decade before the confrontation in question could have taken place.

It's ironic that the man behind the film (and brilliant in it) is Steve Coogan, by his own admission "forced to fight for the truth" on behalf of phone-hacking victims.

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