Pope Francis Discusses Ecology with Actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio has met Pope Francis at the Vatican on January 28, 2016 to discuss their shared concern about the environment and give him a cheque to use on charity works 'close to your heart'. Photo by Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)
Sipa via AP Images

On Thursday, Pope Francis met with Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio in the Vatican, where the two reportedly discussed the care of the environment, among other things.

DiCaprio requested the meeting, which took place from 11:15 to 11:30 in the morning. DiCaprio has worked for years on ecological issues and sustainability.

The actor spoke on the subject of climate change at the UN COP21 Paris climate conference and at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Our world leaders are here in Paris in an effort to finalize a global agreement 20 years in the making, to finally address the very real threat that climate change poses to our planet,” DiCaprio said to a group of mayors in early December 2015. “These leaders have met before. They met in Kyoto, they met in Copenhagen, and in cities on every continent, but each and every time, they have come up short. This time must be different, because we are fundamentally running out of time.”

“Climate change is the most fundamental and existential threat to our species,” he continued. “The consequences are unthinkable and worse, it has the potential to make our planet unlivable.”

Earlier last year, DiCaprio came under fire for having flown on a private jet from NY to LA six times in only six weeks, while simultaneously urging others not to use fossil fuels.

Not long afterward, the actor returned to New York to accept a Clinton Global Citizen Award for his environmental preservation efforts.

Another group mocked DiCaprio as a “celebrity hypocrite” for having celebrated the World Cup in 2014 aboard a 482-foot super yacht, owned by United Arab Emirates sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose family’s $150 billion fortune came mostly from the sale of oil.

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation funds a project titled Green World Rising, which urges visitors to the website to “Lighten your carbon load.”

The site says that “we can lead by example in reducing our own ‘carbon footprints’ at home, at work, and at school,” while not specifically referring to air travel on private jets.

The arrival of the American star in the Vatican occurred without publicity, with the name “Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio” appearing on the daily list of the Pope’s audiences the morning of the meeting.

Pope Francis reportedly gave DiCaprio a leather-bound copy of his encyclical letter on the environment Laudato Si and his earlier document, The Joy of the Gospel.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.


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