Susan Sarandon has been slammed by a Catholic civil rights group for reportedly calling Pope Benedict XVI a "Nazi," while a Jewish organization has called on her to apologize.
Sarandon, who was raised Roman Catholic and is known for her liberal political views and activism, told him she had sent the pope a copy of the book "Dead Man Walking," which advocates against the death penalty. The actress had won an Oscar for her role in a 1995 film adaptation. She said she sent the book to the "last" pope, "not this Nazi one we have now," according to Newsday.
"Susan Sarandon's ignorance is willful," Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said in a statement. "Sarandon's comment is obscene. Sadly, it's what we've come to expect from her."
Pope Benedict was born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany and was a member of the Hitler Youth in the 1940s during World War II, as was mandated by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The pope deserted German forces and became a U.S. prisoner of war. He has said that his Catholic parents rejected Nazi ideology and has publicly condemned the extermination of some six million Jews and others during the Holocaust.
Sarandon has not responded to criticism about her comment.
"We hope that Susan Sarandon will have the good sense to apologize to the Catholic community and all those she may have offended with this disturbing, deeply offensive and completely uncalled for attack on the good name of Pope Benedict XVI," Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which aims to stop anti-Semitism and bigotry, said in a statement.
"Ms. Sarandon may have her differences with the Catholic Church, but that is no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies," he said. "Such words are hateful, vindictive and only serve to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust."