Actor, director and screenwriter Ethan Hawke suggested in a recent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that Pope Francis should follow the example of his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, to help put an end to the war in Ukraine.
“When you read about the great Christian thinkers throughout time, you know, St. Francis of Assisi is really staggering,” Hawke told Colbert, “and I had this idea that I wanted to write the pope.”
Ethan Hawke on St. Francis of Assisi
Ethan Hawke is Episcopalian, which host Stephen Colbert, who is Catholic, joked was “one pope away from being right.”
“We’re wannabe Catholics,” Hawke agreed, “My mother always said we’re wannabe Catholics. We just didn’t want to do the hard work and we want to be able to get divorced.”
In a 2018 interview with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air,” Hawke said that growing up, he was “baptized and confirmed an Episcopal” and that the priest who confirmed him had a significant impact on his life. Attending church was a “big part” of Hawke’s life growing up. In summers he even did “missionary work,” which involved serving others through manual labor, but no proselytizing. Hawke told Gross during the interview that he did not “really go” to church.
Despite religious practices not being central to his adult life, Hawke shared with Colbert that he was “raised on the great Catholic writers and thinkers,” and that he had been “impressed” when Pope Francis took the name of Francis of Assisi.
Francis of Assisi was a mystic and monk who founded the Fransciscan Order and whose devotion to Jesus had a significant impact on medieval Christianity. He lived a life of poverty and instructed his followers “to follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps.”
Hawke said he had thought of writing the pope because Francis of Assisi had “marched across the desert to a battlefield in the Fifth Crusade to try to have audience with the sultan.” The Fifth Crusade was part of a series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims as the groups battled for control of holy sites. The objective of the Fifth Crusade was to take Jerusalem back from Muslim control.