NEW YORK (JTA) — Susan Sarandon is under fire after referring to the German-born Pope Benedict XVI as a Nazi.
The actress made the comment during an interview Saturday with actor Bob Balaban at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Sarandon was discussing her 1995 Oscar-winning film "Dead Man Walking," based on an anti-death penalty book by Sister Helen Prejean, when she mentioned that she had sent a copy of the book to the pope.
"The last one," she clarified, referring to Pope John Paul II. "Not this Nazi one we have now," meaning Pope Benedict. Sarandon then repeated the remark.
The Anti-Defamation League was among those who condemned Sarandon for her word choice. The ADL suggested she apologize to the Catholic community.
"Ms. Sarandon may have her differences with the Catholic Church, but that is no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said Monday in a statement. "Such words are hateful, vindictive and only serve to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust."
Pope Benedict was born in Germany in 1927 and has spoken of being forced to join the Hitler Youth by his seminary. He also was later conscripted into the German army at age 16.