(Updated) The anti-defamation groups say the actress owes the Catholic community an apology
(Updated: 5:40 p.m. PST)
The heads of the Catholic League and the Anti-Defamation League slammed Susan Sarandon on Monday for calling Pope Benedict XVI a "Nazi."
Bill Donohue, president of the U.S. based Catholic anti-defamation group, said the actress mischaracterized Benedict's involvement in the Hitler Youth during remarks she made at an event on Long Island last weekend.
Also read: Susan Sarandon Brands Pope Benedict a 'Nazi'
"Susan Sarandon’s ignorance is willful: those who have hatred in their veins are not interested in the truth," Donohue said in a statement.
Donohue said that the pope was conscripted at the age of 14 while living in Nazi occupied Bavaria, but refused to attend meetings and deserted the group "at the first opportunity."
He said the pope's refusal to go along with the organization brought hardship to his family.
Across the faith-based aisle, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, called the actress' comments "uncalled for."
"Ms. Sarandon may have her differences with the Catholic Church, but that is no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies," Foxman said in a statement. "Such words are hateful, vindictive and only serve to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust."
Like the Catholic League, the ADL fights religious defamation, focusing its attention on combating anti-Semitism.
Appearing alongside actor Bob Balaban at the Bay Street Theater, Sarandon kicked off the controversy after she mentioned she had sent a copy of the book "Dead Man Walking" to Pope John Paul II. Sarandon played a nun in the movie version of the book.
"The last one," Sarandon said, explaining which pope she gave the book to, "not this Nazi one we have now."
That didn't sit too well with Donohue.
"Sarandon’s comment is obscene," Donohue said in a statement. "Sadly, it’s what we’ve come to expect from her."