Sunday Spotlight: Philomena and the Pope

ABC's Cynthia McFadden on the Philomena Lee's powerful meeting with Pope Francis.
3:00 | 02/09/14

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Transcript for Sunday Spotlight: Philomena and the Pope
Our "Sunday spotlight" shining on a woman who was once an unwed teenager forced by catholic nuns to give up her baby for adoption. This week she got a chance to share her story with pope Francis. Nightline anchor Cynthia Mcfadden was there. Reporter: Few can make an entrance like a pope, and this pope, Francis, has particular appeal. His every word scrutinized for what it might mean for the world's more than 1 billion catholics. But this week at the Vatican, an image more powerful than words. I am honored to meet you. Reporter: 80-year-old Phil L omena, once shamed by the church for having a baby out of wedlock was invited bit Vatican to meet and shake hands with pope Francis as the two committed catholics locked eyes. Holy father, it's a pleasure to meet you. Reporter: We were there for this incredible moment in history. Her story, now an oscar-nominated film. I've kept what happened buried away for 50 years. Did you take your nickers down? I was frightened when she said you were going to have a baby. Reporter: You didn't know how you were going to deliver the baby. It was a very bad birth. It was a breach birth. The nuns thought I was going to die. Reporter: No medicine. No medicine. After you had your baby, you had to stay in the abbey for four years to repay the sisters for taking you in. Reporter: Was that a miserable job? Was it just. But then we just got on with it, because well, we have committed a sin, having a baby out of wedlock as we were told. Reporter: There are an estimated 60,000 women in Ireland who had babies in those circumstances over the past 60 or so years. Forced to give them up, many to U.S. Families, often for a price. One day without warning her 3-year-old son was taken away to America. I did not abandon my child. Reporter: Like thousands of other mothers and sons, Philomena and her son tried to find one another. But the nuns refused to help. To this day, adoption records in Ireland still remain largely closed. All of which makes what happened at the Vatican this week even more amazing. The Vatican arranged a highly unusual screening of the movie, and the pope sent one of his top personal AIDS. Is your presence here today a signal from the church, from the pope? Of course. The pope, he knows that I'm here. Reporter: Do you see the pope intervening in some way to make the records available? I think. Reporter: You think so? I think. Sf sflr. Reporter: Also at the screening, a high-ranking bishop, friends with the archbishop of Dublin. Maybe you have to make some phone calls. What do you think? I can call. Reporter: Dramatic statements in a place where nothing is said by accident. For "This week," Cynthia mcfadd Mcfadden, Vatican City. Our thanks to Cynthia and welcome news, no deaths of service members in Afghanistan this week. That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World news" with David Muir tonight and have a great day. News" with

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