Actress and social activist Susan Sarandon reportedly called Pope Benedict XVI a Nazi during a public discussion at a film festival in New York City. The remark, has drawn criticism from both Catholic and Jewish groups.
The actress, 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. [Pope John Paul II] Not this Nazi one we have now, she was reported as saying, by Newsday.
The remark was made on Saturday in an interview about Sarandon's career, conducted by fellow actor Bob Balaban. The interview was part of the Hamptons Film Festival.
German-born Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Ratzinger, was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth in the early 1940s when membership was compulsory, the Vatican has said. He deserted the military during World War II and has said that as devout Catholics, his parents rejected Nazi ideology.
Hindu leaders have thrown their support behind outraged Catholics.
The pope is reportedly organizing a religious peace summit in Assisi on Oct. 27, inviting leaders of other Christian denominations, various world religions and some figures from the world of culture and science to walk along the path of dialogue and fraternity. Sarandon should be commending the pope for this peace summit, said U.S. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed to WENN.
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization, also piled the pressure on Sarandon to apologize for her off-hand remark.