The head of the Catholic League denounced actress Susan Sarandon Monday for referring to Pope Benedict XVI as a Nazi.
"Sarandon's comment is obscene," said William Donohue, president of the religious anti-defamation organization. "Sadly, it's what we've come to expect from her."
Sarandon, who won an Oscar playing Sister Helen Prejean in the 1995 film "Dead Man Walking," adapted from the nun's nonfiction book, made the comment Saturday in an onstage interview at the Hamptons International Film Festival. As first reported by Newsday, she said she had sent a copy of the book to the pope, adding, "The last one, not this Nazi one we have now." She repeated her remark after being chided by actor Bob Balaban, the interviewer.
"Joseph Ratzinger [the pope] was conscripted at the age of 14 into the Hitler Youth, along with every other young German boy," Donahue said in his statement. "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, 65, who was raised Roman Catholic and graduated from the Catholic University of America, has advocated for anti-war and charitable causes and was appointed a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1999.
Her representatives did not respond to Newsday's requests for comment.