"Philomena" is an amazing documentary of a mother's love & courageous search for her son who was taken from her by the nuns in a Catholic home for "unwed mothers" in Ireland.
The mother was a girl of 14 when she got pregnant from a "coming of age," one-time, innocent-love exploration with a teen-age boy. When she became pregnant, her family disowned her & sent her to the "home for unwed mothers." The mother, though elderly of course, still lives in Ireland. The acclaimed British actress Judi Densch played the mother--& delivered a very sensitive & moving performance. Is based on the book of the same name.
Was incredible what the sexist, double-standard, Catholic religion brainwashed into the nuns to allow them to justify their actions toward the girl & to be inhumane in withholding the information from both mother & son throughout the 50+ years after he was forcibly adopted out to a couple in America--even when he came back to Ireland, dying & looking for his mother.
The truth came out when a BBC journalist began investigating on behalf of the mother & discovered that the nuns had sold babies for a $1,000 or more to couples in America or anybody else who had the money during the mid-50's. The movie stated at the end that there are thousands more children, adopted out to parents in the U. S. or other countries as babies or infants & now grown to adulthood who are still looking for their "shamed mothers."
The book Philomena came out in 2009. I applauded the heroism of the journalist who had been raised a Catholic & then questioned rationally a "God"/god who would equip people with pleasure-creating body parts & then forbid them to enjoy those "God/god-given parts/emotions -- & condemn a young girl to a life of shame & pain because she acted on her natural desires to love. In the early 1950's, she had few real options to prevent the pregnancy from continuing because of the technology of that Era--that was before choices technology has made available today, such as the birth control pill, morning-after pill or abortion. Feels very strange & hypocritical to me to have the Catholic church hold sacred &
reverence the "unwed motherhood" of Mary the Mother of Jesus, according to the Catholic tradition--& yet condemn all other "unwed mothers" -- while ignoring the "unwed fathers."
The courage of the journalist & the mother & the Very Human aspects of it --as well as the expose of the Catholic church's injustices was heartening & inspiring to me. I applaud the role of journalism in ferreting out truth & confronting the wrongdoers to hold them accountable & give the victims information from which to discover their own truths & get closure or some peace of mind.
The concept of forgiveness was present in the movie too. As well as the importance of Truth. Both concepts are important. Truth to require individuals & institutions to face the facts & consequences of their actions--& Forgiveness to release the victim(s) from the poison of hate & continuing effects of the victimization.
The movie was especially relevant & personal to me, because like the daughter in the film who was encouraging the mother to find her son; I encouraged my mother to find her son--or let Me find him--in 1984. Unlike Philomena, I did not have the help of a journalist or the internet or money then. I had only my passion, determination, conviction & sense of truth to guide me as I sensed bringing out the truth & attempting to find my brother was important to the healing of my mother & myself--in order to Go Forward in my life.
My mother was also forced at the age of 19 in 1931 to give up her son, when he was a 3-month old baby--when her husband of a year abused her when she was in mid-pregnancy. Her father directed her to come home to the family home in Chicago. He decided, as the head of the household, what was to be done. He felt it was best for my mother & the family to get the child out of sight & pretend the whole event had never happened. So the baby was given up to my mother's ex-husband.
The social strictures in the early 1930's prohibited divorce; it was a stigma for a single woman to raise a child alone; the term "domestic violence" was uncoined & there were no therapists to help people deal with their pain -- or even question if "the norm" were moral, humane or healthy.
That secret & lie was buried for 53 years until my father told me one day when I was 35 yrs. old. I felt the "clicks of truth" right away--a lot of things suddenly made sense--intuitive Answers to questions I hadn't even asked, but made sense as soon as I heard the facts. I determine to find out what happened to him.
My mother told me she grieved deeply for 8 yrs for the son who she was directed to "give up"; then she got into a fundamentalist, protestant, evangelical church which forbid dancing, which I guess helped her to forget about the husband who was a dancer, who had abused her. The church promised her that if she would "do good" -- "give the gospel" & convert others to the religion that she'd see her son in "heaven" again. So, just like in the movie, my mother began to atone for the pain & grief of losing her child because she felt "shamed" by what had happened.
This story, about finding my brother, is also part of my book-in-process which chronicles other aspects of my own search for truth, healing, meaning, wholeness & happiness. Like the journalist in the movie, I have my own questions about "God"/god & how the religions use it to manipulate people. And like the journalist, I feel a passion to pursue truth & bring it out--for the healing of individuals & the evolvement of society as a core principle of my ethics. My degree in journalism, plus study of law, plus lifelong activism in the areas of social justice & personal, family & global healing -- plus zest for Life & beauty -- all move me to act in the pursuit of truth.
The "Philomena" movie is playing now through Thursday at the Regal Cinema in Winter Park. 5 shows daily.
--Norma J. Young