Actress Susan Sarandon called Pope Benedict XVI a Nazi at the Hamptons Film Festival over the weekend, angering both Catholic and Jewish groups.
The movie star, who won an Oscar for her role in the 1995 anti-death penalty film, “Dead Man Walking,” said she had sent a copy of the book on which the movie was based to the pope.
“The last one. Not this Nazi one we have now,” she reportedly told New York newspaper Newsday. She later repeated her remarks at the Ciroc vodka-sponsored discussion panel.
German-born Pope Benedict, formerly Joseph Ratzinger, was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth in the early 1940s when membership was enforced, the Vatican said in a statement. He deserted the military during World War II.
Sarandon, 65, known for her support of varying causes including hunger and AIDS, was slammed by religious groups for her comments. The New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called Sarandon’s remark “obscene” and said in a Monday statement that her “ignorance is willful.”
The Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism, asked Sarandon to apologize to the Catholic Community. The ADL said in a statement, “Ms. Sarandon may have her difference with the Catholic Church but that is no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies.”
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