I am going to attempt to post a normal column today on my blog and then nourish the hope that I can re-post it, as I have done for a few years now, on Facebook. I did not think things could be worse than a dying computer but now it seems a new computer has even more issues. An extremely poor Internet connection has made all my problems worse and I have pleaded with TIM, the Italian phone company to remedy things asap.

Today my main challenge is linked to my keyboard. All the keys that are not letters, with the exception of the period, comma and exclamation mark keys, when pressed, are something other than what is shown on the key. If I want a punctuation key, any punctuation, it is trial and error. I tried to write Joan-s Rome and, as you see, the apostrophe has been replaced by a dash.

I went online this morning and found a Microsoft help site and tried their recommendation of simultaneously pressing the Function and Block Numbers keys and that worked. It is not working now. Trying to write without symbols and punctuation is nigh on to impossible.

Just two stories for this column today, given that my task is so difficult.

Congratulations to Cardinal Arborelius, by the way….read on!


Please join me this weekend on Vatican Insider when my very special guest is also a good friend, Alveda King. You may have seen her posts and my reposts of her blogs and Facebook live video about our visit last Saturday in my home. We were joined by two friends of ours for a morning of conversation, a Christmas panettone and some coffee …. coffee I had brought back from Hawaii.

I think the small size of our elevator stunned Alveda…

Some photos Bob Lalonde took at the papal audience…

Alveda, if you do not know her and have not seen her on her frequent appearances on Foxnews, is an American activist, author, former college professor and former state representative in the Georgia House of Representatives. She is a niece of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the founder of Alveda King Ministries. Alveda currently serves as a Pastoral Associate and Director of Civil Rights for the Unborn, the African-American Outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries. Among her many talents and ministries, Alveda is also a voice for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, sharing her testimony of two abortions, God’s forgiveness, and healing.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: For VI archives:


Swedish Cardinal Anders Arborelius, archbishop of Stockholm, has been named 2017 Swede of the Year by a 7-person jury, the first time a Catholic prelate has received the honor.

This award has been given every year since 1984. In early years, the main criteria for selecting Swede of the Year was that the person in question had played a prominent part in news reports that year and it was a leading service news show, Rapport, that made the selection. Since 2006, a leading Swedish news magazine, Fokus, has been responsible for selecting Swede of the Year via an independent jury that makes the actual selection.

Since 2006 the criteria has been changed to show a willingness to find candidates who are not just well known or celebrated people but people who are both interesting and challenging.

Here is what the jury stated regarding the 2017 selection of Cardinal Arborelius….

“Nineteen years ago, the Swede of the Year stepped into a role that no Swede had played since the 16th century. This year he became the first Swede ever to wear the red biretta. The Swede of the Year has already made history, but he is also a person who, even since his appointment in 1998, has been part of Swedish public debate. To represent the Catholic Church in a country whose identity is mainly secular and otherwise Lutheran, requires a fearless attitude. As bishop of the diocese of Stockholm, the Swede of the Year also plays an essential role in bringing native Swedes and immigrant Swedes together. The Swede of the Year is Anders Arborelius, bishop and cardinal.”