VATICAN CITY (AP) — The woman who inspired the Oscar-nominated film "Philomena," about an Irish mother forced to give up her son for adoption, says she doesn't blame the Vatican for her ordeal, despite a damning U.N. report essentially holding the Holy See responsible for such practices.
Philomena Lee spoke at a news conference Thursday after meeting briefly with Pope Francis and screening "Philomena" for Francis' personal secretary at the Vatican a day earlier.
Lee was sent to a Catholic-run boarding house in Ireland after she got pregnant as a teenager in 1952, one of thousands of young Irish women essentially incarcerated in shame for having had an out-of-wedlock child in the staunchly Roman Catholic country.
Lee's son was sent to the United States to be adopted when he was 3 and she never heard from him again.
On Wednesday, a U.N. human rights committee essentially held the Vatican responsible for such forced adoptions arranged by Catholic-run institutions in Ireland, urging it to investigate and compensate victims. The recommendation was contained in a scathing report on the Vatican's failure to protect children as a signatory to a U.N. treaty on children's rights.
Lee, however, said she doesn't blame the Vatican or anyone for what happened to her. She said that in meeting Francis she actually felt that her sins for having had a child were finally forgiven.
"You were made to feel so bad about having a baby out of wedlock," she recalled. "I've carried the guilt inside for 50 years, without telling anybody."
"So I had such a sense of relief that I had been forgiven," she said.
Asked if the church should ask her forgiveness, for having taken her son away from her, Lee said she initially was bitter about what had been done to her, and that she did "lose my religion a little bit."