NY archbishop lauds reaction to Susan Sarandon's Nazi comment

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York praised local news and anti-discrimination groups for chastising actress Susan Sarandon after she called Pope Benedict a “Nazi.”

In a Oct. 19 post on his blog, “The Gospel in the Digital Age,” Archbishop Dolan said he was “grateful” to the New York Daily News, the Catholic League and the Anti-Defamation League for criticizing remarks Sarandon made during an Oct. 15 press conference at the Hamptons Film Festival.

The actress, known for her Academy Award-winning role in the 1995 anti-death penalty movie, “Dead Man Walking,” said that she had given a copy of the book which the film in based on to the Pope.

“The last one. Not this Nazi one we have now,” Sarandon said in reference to Pope Benedict. She allegedly made the same comment again at another discussion panel that day.

Though none of the press visibly reacted at the time, several organizations were quick to jump on the actress's remarks, including the Catholic League. Group president Bill Donohue called her comments not only “obscene” but historically inaccurate.

“Susan Sarandon’s ignorance is willful: those who have hatred in their veins are not interested in the truth,” Donohue said on Oct. 17.

“The fact is that Joseph Ratzinger (the Pope) was conscripted at the age of 14 into the Hitler Youth, along with every other young German boy,” he explained.

“Unlike most of the other teenagers, Ratzinger refused to go to meetings, bringing economic hardship to his family. Moreover, unlike most of the others, he deserted at the first opportunity.”

In a strongly worded Oct. 19 editorial, the New York Daily News also added to the criticism, saying that Sarandon “defamed” Pope Benedict with a “grotesque characterization.”

“Sarandon meant what she said because, it is clear, she despises the church’s moral teachings,” the Daily News wrote. “And that, for her, justifies placing the Pope in the category of a mass-murdering perpetrator of evil beyond description.”

The actress's comments also drew outcry from the Jewish community, specifically the Anti-Defamation League, which said that Sarandon had “no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies.”

“Such words are hateful, vindictive and only serve to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust,” it said.

The league, which works to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, called on the actress to apologize to the Catholic community “and all those she may have offended with this disturbing, deeply offensive and completely uncalled for attack on the good name of Pope Benedict XVI.”

Archbishop Dolan said on his blog that he agrees with the Daily News' take that “Sarandon will face  no public fall-out for her remarks, 'because so very often the Catholic Church is considered fair game for anything.'”

“However,” he added, “with support from the Daily News, the Catholic League and the ADL, we might one day be able to turn that tide.”

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