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Actress Susan Sarandon arrives at the Film Society of Lincoln Center Gala Tribute to her in New York on May 5, 2003. Pope Benedict XVI prays during his weekly general audience in St.Peter’s Square at the Vatican on May 26, 2010.
Susan Sarandon called Pope Benedict XVI a ‘Nazi’ last weekend while discussing Catholic teaching on the death penalty.
Those are harsh words from the Catholic girl who played a well known nun, Sr. Helen Prejean, in Dead Man Walking, a popular 1995 film depicting Prejean’s anti-death penalty ministry and activism.
During an event at the Hamptons Film Festival, Sarandon said she had sent a copy of the book “Dead Man Walking” in hopes that the late Pope John Paul II would elevate the issue of the death penalty in church teaching. According to reports, Sarandon said she sent the book to “The last [pope]. Not this Nazi one we have now.”
Like many of his contemporaries, Pope Benedict, then Joseph Ratzinger, was unwillingly drafted into the Hitler Youth during his time growing up in World War II Germany. In 2009, National Catholic Reporter journalist John Allen Jr. explained the specifics of the pope’s relationship with the Hitler Youth and Nazi Germany:
The Anti-Defamation League called Sarandon’s ‘Nazi’ comments “disturbing, deeply offensive and completely uncalled for”; Bill Donohue of the Catholic League said her words were “obscene” and “willful ignorance.”
Sarandon has long been vocal about her liberal political and religious beliefs. She grew up Catholic and graduated from The Catholic University of America. In 2008, she penned an essay on her faith in the book “Being Catholic Now.” Among her reflections: What she would do if she were “pope for a year.”