Pope to climate activist, ‘Pray for me at the North Pole’

Pray at the North Pole

Pope Francis met with a paralyzed man who plans to travel to the Arctic Circle and asked the adventurer to ‘pray for me at the North Pole.’

Michael Haddad was paralyzed from the chest down in a jet ski accident when he was six years old. He was told that he would never walk again due to the spinal cord injury.

But the athlete and adventurer from Lebanon has found a way to walk using steel spine and orthotic leg braces.

Haddad greeted Pope Francis at the June 2 general audience and asked him to bless his Arctic mission. He is undertaking the trek with a team of scientists as a United Nations goodwill ambassador for the environment.

“When I told my story to the Holy Father, he put his hand on my head. I told him that we try to bring a message of humanity in favour of the earth and the environment. He blessed me, and I said: ‘Father, pray for me,'” Haddad told Vatican News after the encounter.

“‘Pray for me at the North Pole,’ the pope replied. I can’t get this sentence out of my head. It gave me strength and much food for thought. I feel more committed, no longer alone, but together with the pope to try to make this change.”

Haddad plans to make his Arctic trek in February or March 2022 after a previous attempt was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The adventurer has already walked the Pyramids of Giza plateau, scaled the Raouche Rock in Beirut, snowshoed the Black Summit, and completed two marathons using exoskeleton technology.

“As a person unable to walk, stand up and sit on their own, I decided to explore my potential. I have found that nothing is impossible,” he said.

“This is thanks to two things: faith and determination. Faith in our Creator, faith in ourselves. Determination, in the certainty that within us there are unlimited powers to go forward and break every wall,” he said.

Haddad, a Christian, gave the pope a branch of a cedar tree, a biblical symbol of Lebanon, and a photo of a church in an old cedar forest.

“The wood of those cedars has been connected to the earth for 10,000 years. So there is a double meaning: history and man’s close connection to the planet. We lived in the forests, it is time to remind us, because without a healthy planet there is no healthy humanity. We must send this message to the world,” he said.

“I decided to walk,” he explained, “because earth is sitting in a wheelchair. We have to unite to save ourselves, to save our planet and I am doing it under one banner. The United Nations we stand united together all over the world to make this change. And we have to do it now.”


Catholic News Agency

Vatican News


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