Activist and actor Leonardo DiCaprio met with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Thursday, in order to discuss their shared environmental concerns.
DiCaprio greeted the Pontiff in Italian at the Apostolic Palace by saying, “Your Holiness, thank you for granting me this private audience with you,” before kissing the Pope’s ring. The two have paid close attention to issues concerning green energy and a fossil based economy around the world. The Pope’s encyclical book, “Laudato Si,” touches on the subject and has been very well received by environmentalists.
The actor brought a book of works by Hieronymus Bosch, and specifically showed the Pontiff the Dutch painter’s "Garden of Earthly Delights" which hung over his crib when he was only a child. The painting features Adam and Eve, a luscious green landscape and a depiction of hell, all in three separate parts. “As a child I didn't quite understand what it all meant, but through my child's eyes it represented a planet, the utopia we had been given, the overpopulation, excesses, and the third panel we see a blackened sky that represents so much to me of what's going in in the environment," DiCaprio explained.
In addition, DiCaprio brought a check from his foundation for the Pope to use for charity works "close to your heart." The actor’s foundation, which he created in 1998, recently donated $15MM to environmental causes (including helping the victims of the Chevron oil spill in Ecuador), as he announced at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
In exchange, Pope Francis handed DiCaprio a leather bound copy of his previously mentioned book, “Laudato Si” as well as a copy of his previous document, “The Joy of the Gospel.”