Pope Francis met with Leonardo DiCaprio at the Vatican on Thursday, January 28. The actor and environmental activist was accompanied by his father, George DiCaprio, and the global fundraising chair for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Milutin Gatsby.
“Your Holiness, thank you for granting me this private audience with you,” Leonardo said in Italian as he arrived to the Apostolic Palace and kissed the pope’s ring.
The actor gave the Pope a book of art from the Dutch Renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch and showed him the reproduction of the artist’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” that hung over his crib as an infant. The two met for 15 minutes to discuss DiCaprio’s charitable foundation and how they can work together on climate change.
“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,” the actor said while describing the painting. “[In] the third panel we see a blackened sky that represents so much to me of what’s going on in the environment.”
The Oscar nominee gave him a check from the environmental philanthropy he started in 1998 to use for his charity of choice. Pope Francis, in turn, gave the actor a leather-bound copy of Laudato Si, published in 2015, and a copy of his earlier work, Evangelii Gaudium, published in 2013.
DiCaprio addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this month, calling on business leaders to do more to fight global warming. The actor was honored with the Crystal Award for his environmental activism.
“Our planet cannot be saved unless we leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong,” DiCaprio said in his acceptance speech addressed to the world’s rich and powerful. “Twenty years ago, we described this problem as an addiction. Today, we possess the means to end this reliance.”