Calling Pope Benedict XVI a Nazi, acerbic comedian Bill Maher ran afoul of Catholics.
Maher's remarks came last Friday on his HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher.
“Whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God's infallible wing man here on Earth, lock away the kids," Maher said, comparing the church to the polygamist cult in Texas that was recently raided by authorities.
"I'd like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult," he continued. "Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats."
It was the Nazi comment that rankled Catholics. In a press release, Catholic League president Bill Donohue stated that he was assured by an HBO executive that Maher would apologize on Friday’s show for “falsely accusing the pope of once being a Nazi.”
“Like all young men in Germany at the time, [Joseph Ratzinger] was conscripted into a German youth organization, from which he fled as soon as he could,” Donohue added. “Every responsible Jewish leader has acknowledged this reality and has never sought to brand the pope a Nazi.”
An HBO spokesman confirmed that Maher is expected to acknowledge that he misspoke about the Pope's past and “briefly explain the correct information” on Friday's edition of Real Time.
Pope Benedict XVI is visiting the United States this week, presiding over masses in New York and Washington, D.C. He also met with several victims of clergy sexual abuse and publicly apologized for the far-reaching sex abuse crisis that rocked the Catholic Church, saying he felt “deeply ashamed.”