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Leonardo DiCaprio greets pope in Italian before discussing environment

Published 28/01/2016

Leonardo DiCaprio is a long-time environmental campaigner
Leonardo DiCaprio is a long-time environmental campaigner

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has met Pope Francis at the Vatican, discussing their shared concern over the environment and giving the pontiff a cheque from his charitable foundation.

"Your Holiness, thank you for granting me this private audience with you," DiCaprio said in Italian as he arrived in the Apostolic Palace and kissed the pope's ring.

Later, in English, DiCaprio offered Francis a book of works by the 15th-century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch and showed him the reproduction of Bosch's Garden Of Earthly Delights that had hung over his cot as a child. The triptych, which DiCaprio has referred to in the past, depicts Adam and Eve in the first panel, a teeming landscape in the centre panel, and finally a vision of hell.

"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 on in the environment," DiCaprio told the pope.

DiCaprio said he thought the painting also represented Francis's environmental concerns.

Francis's encyclical Laudato Si (Praise Be) has been embraced by environmentalists for its denunciation of the world's fossil fuel-based economy and its demand for greener energy sources.

An assistant then handed Francis an envelope and explained it was a cheque from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation for the pope to use for charity works "close to your heart".

Di Caprio, nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Revenant, is a long-time environmental campaigner who in 1998 launched his foundation to support initiatives aimed at sustainability.

He recently addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, announcing that the foundation was donating another 15 million US dollars (£10.4 million) to environmental projects and pleading with business leaders to battle global warming.

Francis gave DiCaprio a leather-bound copy of Laudato Si and his earlier document, The Joy Of The Gospel.

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