If you read only one thing today (other than Joan’s Rome!), it should be this: Cardinal Pell Has One Question for Cardinal Becciu: ‘Will He Just Tell Us What the Money Was Sent for?’| National Catholic Register (

And if you read only one of the follow stories, make sure it is the one about Michael Haddad and a papal book going to the North Pole!


POPE RECEIVES ITALIAN PRESIDENT MATTARELLA: The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, was received by Pope Francis in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, as his mandate draws to a close. According to the Italian Constitution, the President is the Head of State and represents national unity. It is his responsibility to make sure that Italian politics comply with the Constitution. His role is incompatible with any other office, and his term lasts seven years. Pope receives outgoing President Mattarella of Italy – Vatican News

POPE FRANCIS ESTABLISHES FRATELLI TUTTI FOUNDATION: “To support and design pathways of art and faith… to invest in cultural and spiritual formation through events, experiences, pathways and spiritual exercises… to promote dialogue with cultures and other religions on the themes of the Pontiff’s latest encyclicals, in order to build a ‘social alliance.’”: These are the aims of the new Fratelli tutti  Foundation, established by Pope Francis with a chirograph (a papal decree) signed on 8 December 2021. Pope Francis establishes Fratelli tutti Foundation – Vatican News

SAN GENNARO’S BLOOD FAILS TO LIQUEFY: (CNA) – The blood of St. Januarius, patron of the Italian city of Naples, remained solid on Thursday morning, so far failing to liquefy in December for the second consecutive year. The liquefaction traditionally happens at least three times a year: Sept. 19, the saint’s feast day, the first Saturday of May, and Dec. 16, the anniversary of the 1631 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. San Gennaro’s blood fails to liquefy at start of December anniversary | Catholic News Agency


Michael Haddad to receive book blessed by Pope ahead of journey to North Pole

An upcoming event at the Italian Embassy to the Holy See will present Michael Haddad, set to travel to the Arctic Circle with the help of an exoskeleton and a book blessed by Pope Francis to accompany him on his journey across the globe.

By Vatican News staff writer

Pope Francis’ message of hope reaches the North Pole in an unprecedented journey. This is how the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication introduces the upcoming journey of Michael Haddad from Lebanon, who is setting out to reach the Arctic Circle.

“Hope is bold, it knows how to look beyond personal comfort, the small securities and compensations that narrow the horizon, to open up to great ideals that make life more beautiful and dignified,” says the Pope in Fratelli tutti.


Seventy-five percent of Michael’s body was left paralyzed after a jet-ski accident when he was only 6 years old. Since then he has lost 75% of his motor functions and moves with the help of an exoskeleton.

Athlete and ambassador

Michael is a professional athlete and UN goodwill ambassador for environmental issues.

He has climbed mountains and crossed deserts, and has also participated in two marathons: one in Cairo, the other in Beirut, in his native Lebanon, to raise funds for the reconstruction of the hospital devastated by the explosion at the port in August 2020.

The adventure

A statement released by the dicastery on Thursday explains that Michael Haddad is setting out to walk 100km (62 miles) in the North Pole, carrying with him a copy of the book “Why Are You Afraid, Have You No Faith?”, produced in a special edition by the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communication.

This book will be slightly different from all the other copies as it will have been blessed by Pope Francis, enabling Michael to carry the Holy Father’s message with him across the world.

“At the end of the walk Haddad will leave the small six-by-eight centimetre (2.4 by 3 inches) book in the Svalbard seed bunker, the largest and safest in the world, located in Norway, 1300 kilometres beyond the Arctic Circle,” reads the statement.

Receiving the message

Haddad, who is a symbol of hope and faith and whose message focuses on the need for urgent action on climate change, care for our common home and inclusion in the face of inequality, “will show his commitment by receiving the message at a meeting at the Italian Embassy to the Holy See” on Friday.

In this way, says the statement, for the first time, “a message from Pope Francis will reach the North Pole hand in hand with an ambassador of goodwill and, like a seed of hope, will remain for posterity in the world’s largest and safest refuge dedicated to safeguarding the planet’s biodiversity.”

Friday’s meeting is co-organized by UNDP (United Nations Development Program), the Italian Embassy to the Holy See, the Institute for Global Dialogue and Culture of Encounter, with the participation of the Holy See Dicastery for Communication. It will take place on Friday, December 17, at 11.00 am at the Italian Embassy in Rome.