Leonardo DiCaprio, using his clout and philanthropic pedigree, managed to wrangle a private audience with Pope Francis last week to discuss the so-called threat man-made global warming poses to the planet.
The Oscar-nominated actor, in a grand gesture, also presented Francis with a check from his environmental group, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, for the pontiff’s charitable works, reported Reuters.
“The Revenant” actor has championed environmental causes for years. “Your Holiness, thank you for granting me this private audience with you,” DiCaprio said in Italian to Francis, before leaning over and kissing his ring.
DiCaprio told Francis his parents dangled 15th-century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch’s magnum opus the “Garden of Earthly Delights” over his crib when he was a baby. The work depicts Adam and Eve in one panel, a landscape teeming with humans and animals in another panel, and hell in the last.
“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 said about Bosh’s work.
The pontiff won praise from environmentalists last year for writing the encyclical Laudato S, which lays out the supposed moral predicaments associated with environmental degradation. DiCaprio offered the pontiff a book of works by Bosch.
DiCaprio has received criticism in the past for skipping across the globe in private jets and yachts while chastising others for their high carbon output. He flew to the Pars climate summit last year to speak to Secretary of State John Kerry about the summit’s particulars, as well as discuss with the other climate change sophisticates about man-made global warming.
While accepting an award at an Economic Forum in Switzerland last week, DiCaprio railed against the fossil fuel industry, suggesting coal companies use “corporate greed” to destroy the Earth.
“We simply cannot afford to allow the corporate greed of the coal, oil and gas industries to determine the future of humanity,” he said. “Those entities with a financial interest in preserving this destructive system have denied and even covered-up the evidence of our changing climate.”
The actor’s foundation donated $15 million in grants last year to organizations promising to craft and orchestrate programs that seek to ratchet down global warming.
“The destruction of our planet continues at a pace we can no longer afford to ignore,” DiCaprio said in a press statement affixed to his foundation’s website. “I am proud to support these organizations who are working to solve humankind’s greatest challenge.”
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