The Oscar winner made the comments on Saturday (15Oct11) during a Hamptons Film Festival interview with actor/director Bob Balaban, during which she recalled sending a copy of the book Dead Man Walking - about Sister Helen Prejean's special relationship with death row prisoner Matthew Poncelet - to Pope John Paul II.
Clarifying her story, she said, "The last one (pope), not this Nazi one we have now."
She went on to repeat the remarks to the audience at the Bay Street Theatre, which have served to trigger a response from members of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
President Bill Donohue tells TMZ.com, "Susan Sarandon's quip about Pope Benedict XVI being a Nazi bespeaks unparalleled ignorance."
The religious campaigner has also addressed the Pope's previous links to the Hitler Youth Nazi group, claiming the pontiff quit the movement as soon as he was old enough.
He adds, "Joseph Ratzinger (the pope) was conscripted into the Nazi Youth the way every other 14-year-old German boy was at the time. Unlike most others, he not only refused to go to the compulsory meetings - he actually deserted the Hitler Youth! Which is precisely why Jews today regard him as a friend, not as an enemy.
"In short, what Sarandon said is positively obscene."