Susan Sarandon, during a panel at the Hamptons Film Festival, twice referred to Pope Benedict XVI as a "Nazi."
As a result, the Oscar-winning actress is receiving sharp criticism from both the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Catholic League of America (CLA).
Sarandon was discussing her 1995 film, “Dead Man Walking,” with fellow actor Bob Balaban. The 65-year-old star revealed that she had sent the pope a copy of the book from which the movie had been adapted.
Apparently, it was a clarification of the particular pope she was talking about that got her in trouble.
"The last one [a reference to Pope John Paul II]," Sarandon said, "not this Nazi one we have now."
She repeated the pejorative a second time prior to the panel's conclusion.
The ADL responded with a statement posted on its website, which characterized Sarandon's comment as a “disturbing, deeply offensive, and uncalled for attack on the good name of Pope Benedict XVI."
ADL National Director Abraham Foxman is seeking an apology from the actress.
“We hope that Susan Sarandon will have the good sense to apologize to the Catholic community and all those she may have offended . . . Ms. Sarandon may have her differences with the Catholic Church, but that is no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies. Such words are hateful, vindictive and only serve to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust,” Foxman said.
The CLA issued its own statement, condemning the actress’s remarks as motivated by hate.
“Susan Sarandon’s ignorance is willful: those who have hatred in their veins are not interested in the truth. The fact is that Joseph Ratzinger [the pope] was conscripted at the age of 14 into the Hitler Youth, along with every other young German boy. Unlike most of the other teenagers, Ratzinger refused to go to meetings, bringing economic hardship to his family. Moreover, unlike most of the others, he deserted at the first opportunity. Sarandon’s comment is obscene. Sadly, it’s what we’ve come to expect from her,” the statement read.
Unlike the ADL, CLA President Bill Donohue did not ask Sarandon to apologize because, as he told E! News, “She is ignorant and full of hatred to the Catholic Church.”
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