Susan Sarandon has called Pope Benedict XVI a ‘Nazi’ as she delivered a speech about Catholic teaching on the death penalty.
The actress made her incendiary remark while talking at the Hamptons Film Festival over the weekend. She revealed how she had sent a copy of the book ‘Dead Man Walking’ to the late Pope John Paul II, stating she had sent the book to “[…] the last [pope]. Not this Nazi one we have now.”
This was a reference to Pope Benedict XVI’s membership of the Hitler Youth as a 14-year-old. However, it is questioned by some historians how supportive the Pope or his family of the time were toward Nazism.
In 2009, National Catholic Reporter journalist John Allen Jr. argued that the Pope, then Joseph Ratzinger, was always an unwilling participant in Nazi life:
“The historical evidence is overwhelming that Joseph Ratzinger’s family was ferociously anti-Nazi, and that the future pope was appalled by the arrogance and destructiveness of National Socialism. He was never a Nazi party member, entered an auxiliary unit of the German army only when forced to do so, and deserted before war’s end. He was an American prisoner of war in a camp near Ulm, Germany, before being released and returning to his seminary studies.”
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League accused Sarandon of displaying “willful ignorance,” labeling her comments “obscene.” It wasn’t only theist organisations who were critical: the Anti-Defamation League called the remarks “disturbing, deeply offensive and completely uncalled for.”
What do you make of Sarandon’s remarks?