Ethan Hawke joined The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Tuesday and called on Pope Francis to lead the charge against Russian aggression in Ukraine. Hawke, an Episcopalian, said that he was impressed when Francis was elected and chose Saint Francis of Assisi as his namesake, and spoke about St. Francis’s actions that the pope could emulate.
“I had this idea that I wanted to write the pope,” Hawke said, “and say to him that Francis of Assisi marched across the desert to the battlefield in the fifth crusade to try to have audience with the sultan. And he did this huge act of peace. And he should have been killed, but the sultan didn’t kill him.”
Pope Francis received some criticism last month for suggesting that Russia’s war against Ukraine may have been provoked. Still, the Vatican has confirmed plans for him to visit Ukraine, and possibly Russia, in the coming months, though nothing is set in stone. Hawke called on the pope to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis.
“Pope Francis should take his namesake, and if he would do it, if he would lead a march from Belarus to Mariupol, and we would all go,” Hawke said. “And we could bring the refugees to their homes. And, like, priests and rabbis, and we could all go and say you have to stop killing children.”
The call from Hawke comes as Russia continues its attacks on Ukrainian civilians, including children. Though he specifically called on the pope to interject, Hawke doesn’t believe that the pontiff should have to act alone.
“The choice shouldn’t be whether to escalate the war, or for democracy to fail,” Hawke said. “I feel like the grown ups of the world need to stand up and say, ‘You’re not allowed to bomb and kill children. You’re not allowed to do it. You gotta behave like a grown up.’ And that way we could focus our energy on taking care of the planet and address the real [crises] that are happening right now, instead of making them up.”
And Hawke explained why he believes Pope Francis is the right person for the job, citing historical figures who have done great things in the past.
“The reason why him, I keep thinking about where the voice for non violence is,” Hawke said. “Where is Martin Luther King? Where is Mother Teresa? Where is Nelson Mandela? Where are the voices of people to ask us to join together? And I feel like he’s one of the very few people I can think of that has that moral authority.”
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