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Vatican spokesman: Francis won’t watch Philomena

Dame Judi Dench with Philomena Lee at a gala screening of Philomena last year (PA)

A Vatican spokesman has dismissed reports suggesting Pope Francis will watch the Oscar-nominated film, Philomena.

Over the weekend reports emerged that the Pontiff had been invited by Philomena’s producers to watch a specially co-ordinated screening of the film, based on The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by journalist Martin Sixsmith.

However, Fr Lombardi has said that the Pope will not be watching it and criticised the producers for using Francis as a “marketing strategy”.

“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,” said Fr Lombardi.

The film tells the story of Philomena Lee’s attempts to be reunited with her son who was taken from her in 1950s by Irish nuns and given for adoption to a family in America. The title role is played by Dame Judi Dench with Steve Coogan co-starring as Sixsmith.

Philomena has been nominated in the best picture category at this year’s Oscars, although some have objected to the film with the New York Post film critic Kyle Smith describing it as a “hateful” attack on Catholicism. In response to this criticism Lee, a Catholic, issued an open letter in which she denied the film is anti-Catholic.