Leonardo DiCaprio and Pope Francis Discuss Climate Change at the Vatican: Get All the Details on Their Meeting

"Milutin Gatsby set it all up," a source tells E! News

By Zach Johnson Jan 28, 2016 4:10 PMTags
Leonardo DiCaprio, Pope FrancisThe Vatican

Leonardo DiCaprio's prayers have been answered.

The actor enjoyed a private 15-minute meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican Thursday. Leonardo arrived at 11:15 a.m. local time and 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 in the Apostolic Palace and kissed the pope's ring. The two discussed Leonardo's charitable foundation and how they can work together on climate change. "Leo has been inspired about the pope's green message," a source tells E! News. "Milutin Gatsby set it all up."

Speaking in English, Leonardo offered the pontiff a book of works by the 15th-century Dutch 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 triptych depicts Adam and Eve in the first panel, a landscape in the center panel, and a vision of hell in the third panel. "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, "and the third panel we see a blackened sky that represents so much to me of what's going in in the environment."

The Oscar nominee gave him a check from the environmental philanthropy he started in 1998 to use for a charity "close to your heart." Francis, in turn, gave the actor a leather-bound copy of Laudato Si, published in 2015, plus a copy of one of his earlier works, Evangelii Gaudium, published in 2013.

Last year, the actor was honored for his philanthropic efforts at the Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he donated $15 million to environmental projects. Leonardo, 41, also announced partnerships with environmental groups focused on conservation and sustainability.

Leonardo isn't the first Hollywood star to meet the pope, of course. A year ago, Angelina Jolie traveled to the Vatican to meet him after a screening of her film Unbroken. And in September, while visiting the U.S., the pope attended the World Meeting of Families event, where he met singer Andrea Bocelli, comic Jim Gaffigan, musician Aretha Franklin and actor Mark Wahlberg.