Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and His Holiness Pope Francis lead vastly different lives, both leaders in their respective fields. But during a private meeting at the Vatican on Thursday, they came together to discuss the need for unified approaches to the detrimental effects of climate change. Together, the pair hopes to identify ways to inspire and motivate people worldwide to commit to upholding moral and ethical responsibilities to protect the Earth.
Upon arrival, the suit-clad star greeted the pope in Italian and kissed his ring, as is customary when meeting the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, reports The Los Angeles Times.
The duo focused on how they could "work together to address the immediate need for major action to stop the devastating impacts of climate change from leaving permanent scars on our planet," DiCaprio's rep said.
For years, DiCaprio worked to minimize climate change, with his namesake foundation donating $15 million in grants in July to a wide range of sustainability organizations.
Pope Francis was praised by environmentalists for lamenting climate change, calling for a departure from coal and other fossil fuels and seeking out greener energy sources. Francis echoed those sentiments when addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September.
DiCaprio was accompanied by his father, George DiCaprio, and Milutin Gatsby, the global chair of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, AP said. The film star was raised Catholic but has no religious affiliations, according to the Catholic Herald, which said that he is not an atheist.
The two also exchanged gifts: The 41-year-old art aficionado presented Francis with a large tome featuring works by 15th-century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. The actor also presented the pontiff with a personal check and the directive that he use it for charity endeavors "close to your heart," according to the Associated Press.
Francis gave DiCaprio red leather-bound copies of "Laudato Si" and "The Joy of the Gospel" and asked the star to "pray for me, don't forget."
The meeting with the spiritual leader was the latest stop on DiCaprio's environmental advocacy tour. He recently was honored for his philanthropic efforts at the Economic Forum in Davos, where he donated another $15 million to environmental projects, reports Entertainment Weekly.
"The Revenant" movie award-winner also announced new partnerships with different environmental groups that focus on conservation and sustainability around the world.
Alvin Teoh with Catholic Fellowship Of Praise group said he found this meeting of the two leaders deeply moving. "Being a fan of both DiCaprio and Pope Francis aside, it's a reminder of being relevant to the world in need. For too long, too many in the Church focused on the world to come and neglected the world we're in. And by doing so, we lost people because we didn't serve the needs of humanity or the planet. But this man has bridged the divine the and temporal. And that is what the incarnation is: the divine taking flesh. Spirit becoming concrete. Prayer becoming action. And action speaks a thousand words."