Sarandon 'Nazi Pope' slur

Jill Serjeant

ACTRESS and social activist Susan Sarandon was reported to have called Pope Benedict a Nazi at a film festival in New York, provoking criticism from Catholic and Jewish groups.

The movie star, 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 is based to the Pope.

"The last one. Not this Nazi one we have now," she was reported as saying by US newspaper Newsday.

The remark was made on Saturday in an interview conducted by fellow actor Bob Balaban.

Newsday said Balaban chided Sarandon for the remark but she repeated it.

Sarandon's Hollywood agent did not respond to calls for comment today.

German-born Pope Benedict, 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.

Sarandon (65) who was raised in New York as a Roman Catholic, is known for her support of many causes ranging from AIDS research to opposing the US-led war in Iraq.

The New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called Sarandon's remark "obscene" and said in a statement that her "ignorance is willful."