Famous actor and philanthropist, Leonardo DiCaprio, met with Pope Francis late last week to discuss their shared concern over environmental issues affecting the world at large. The conversation led to DiCaprio handing a personal check to the Pontiff for Pope Francis to use for charity works in which he is involved.
Climate Change: An Environmental Issue Close to Their Hearts
Back in 1998, the Oscar-nominated actor founded his namesake Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF), an organization that dedicates its efforts to the “long-term health and well being of all Earth’s inhabitants.” LDF focuses on four key areas of environmental concern: protecting the world’s biodiversity, conserving wildlands, ocean conservation and combating Earth’s growing climate change problem.
During the private meeting at the Vatican — which also hosted DiCaprio’s father and a global fundraising chair for LDF — the actor offered the pope a book of works by 15th-century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. DiCaprio also showed Francis a reproduction of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights that had been placed over his crib during childhood. Though DiCaprio “didn’t quite understand what it all meant” when he was a young child, he felt the painting “represented a planet, the utopia we had been given, the overpopulation, excesses […] and a blackened sky that represents so much of what’s going on in the environment.” DiCaprio also thought the painting represented the pope’s own concerns about climate change and other environmental issues.
Pope Francis’ unease of the world’s irresponsible development are laid out in his second encyclical, Laudato Si (Praise Be) which has been been applauded by environmentalists for its denunciation of an economy based around fossil fuels, and its demand for more sustainable, eco-friendly energy sources. Pope Francis gifted DiCaprio a leather-bound copy of Laudato Si during their meeting.
This isn’t the first time DiCaprio has hit news headlines for his philanthropic pursuits in environmental activism. The Revenant actor has been involved in environmental campaigns as an activist since his early days of stardom, even before launching LDF to support sustainability initiatives. DiCaprio also recently addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, announcing a $15 million donation from LDF to environmental projects and pleading with business leaders to combat climate change.
Currently, Dicaprio is working on a new documentary aimed at opening movie goers’ eyes to the scary realities of global warming.
To learn how you can get involved with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, visit http://leonardodicaprio.org/.
Photo credit: L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP