CNA Staff, Jun 2, 2021 / 12:00 pm
Pope Francis on Wednesday met with a paralyzed man who plans to travel to the Arctic Circle to raise awareness about the environment.
After a spinal cord injury from a jet ski accident left Michael Haddad paralyzed from the chest down, he was told that he would never walk again.
But the athlete and adventurer from Lebanon has found a way not only to walk, but also to journey more than 60 miles in the Arctic Circle using steel spine and orthotic leg braces.
What an inspiring & blessed morning to be with the Pope on a private audience!— Michael Haddad (@mikaelhaddad) June 2, 2021
Received today the blessings of his holiness @Pontifex for our upcoming Arctic Walk for Addressing #ClimateEmergency #AWAKE #ClimateAction @UNDPArabStates
In Photo:Theresa Panuccio @UNDP & Karim pic.twitter.com/BjwOxMBTUN
Haddad greeted Pope Francis at the June 2 general audience and asked him to bless his Arctic mission, which he is undertaking 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 favor 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,’ he 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 it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He 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.