At a theater surrounded by her tony friends in the Hamptons, actress Susan Sarandon recently discussed her 1995 movie, “Dead Man Walking”; the film was based on a book by Sister Helen Prejean that condemns the death penalty. During the discussion, Sarandon said she sent a copy of the book to the pope, saying, “The last one, not this Nazi one we have now.” After she received such a positive response from the crowd, Sarandon referred to the pope again as a Nazi.
Susan Sarandon’s ignorance is willful: those who have hatred in their veins are not interested in the truth. The fact of the matter is that Joseph Ratzinger (the pope) was conscripted at the age of 14 into the Hitler Youth, along with every other young German boy. 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 the Hitler Youth at the first opportunity.
When he was elected pope in 2005, Rabbi David Rosen, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, said it was “rubbish” to maintain that Ratzinger chose to belong to the Hitler Youth. He not only spoke kindly about the newly elected pope, he added, “enrollment was compulsory.”
Anti-Defamation League president Abe Foxman called for Sarandon to apologize for her comments, we didn’t. Her comment was obscene and any apology would have been hollow. Sadly, it’s what we’ve come to expect from her.