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 I tried to write Joan-s Rome and, as you see, the apostrophe has been replaced by a dash.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.”



Welcome to a new edition of “Vatican Insider” on this first weekend of August. I follow the world’s weather reports and I know that the U.S. has as many hot spots as we do in Italy, with temps that have been averaging 95 to 100 plus for several weeks and in some places as high as 115-120. We also have an extremely severe drought situation.

Hopefully you are in an air-conditioned car or your home as you enjoy your weekly dose of news from the Vatican, a Q&A and an interview segment. Maybe you are even poolside and listening on your phone or tablet!

My guest this week is one of the five new cardinals created in June – Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Sweden. He is the Bishop of Stockholm since 1998 and the first ever cardinal from Sweden – in fact, from all of Scandinavia! He was born in Switzerland of Swedish parents, grew up Lutheran, converted to Catholicism, wanted to be a diocesan priest but became a Discalced Carmelite, after reading Saint Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul. He is multi-lingual and speaks excellent English as you will hear today.

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:


Yesterday I suggested that you tune it to “At Home with Jim and Joy” (it airs Mondays and Thursdays at 2 pm ET) for one of my bi-weekly reports which yesterday, for the first time, was filmed from one of the terraces where EWTN tapes specials and interviews and segments for News Nightly. It was a new location for me and was enjoyable – except that, as I mentioned, it was 102 on the ground and doubtlessly higher on the terrace!

I took some of these photos with my phone –just a few of the stunning views of the Eternal City!

Alan Holdren took a few of me on the set.





Tomorrow, June 28, as you know, Pope Francis will hold a consistory to name 5 new cardinals, bringing the members of the College of Cardinals to 225. Of these, 121 are under 80 years and can participate in a conclave.  The ceiling for the number of cardinal electors is 120 but popes have gone over that number a handful of times.

The new cardinals are from Mali, Spain, Sweden, Laos and El Salvador.

After Wednesday’s consistory, the 4th of Francis’ papacy, of the cardinal electors, 19 will have been appointed by St. John Paul II, 53 by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and 49 by Pope Francis.  Compared to the College of Cardinals in March 2013 when Francis was elected, today there are fewer cardinals from Europe and North America and slightly more in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.  Italy still has the greatest number of cardinal electors with 24. Next, with 10 electors, is the United States, then France with 5, and Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Poland and India, with four each.

I was privileged to interview one of the new cardinals this afternoon, Sweden’s Cardinal Anders Arborelius. He is a lovely, down to earth person whom you feel you have known for a long time, and he speaks six languages! He has been the bishop of Stockholm since 1998. He is not only the first ever cardinal from Sweden, he is the first ever cardinal from Scandinavia.

He was born in Switzerland of Swedish parents, grew up Lutheran, converted to Catholicism, wanted to be a diocesan priest but became a Discalced Carmelite, after reading Saint Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul.

KTLA photo of Pope and Bishop Arborelius during visit to Sweden – Mass at Swedbank:

I’ll let you know when that interview will air on “Vatican Insider”!!


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, together with the members of the College of Cardinals present in the city, in order to mark the 25th jubilee of his ordination to the episcopacy.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals offered greetings and best wishes to Pope Francis on the occasion, recalling the words of St. Paul the Apostle in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “Make room for us in your hearts,”

Cardinal Sodano said. “Holy Father, you need not tell us to make room for you in our hearts,” pledging all the love and reverence due the Successor to Peter.

In remarks following the Readings of the Day, the first of which was taken from the Book of Genesis, recounting the episode in which Abraham and Lot part ways, Pope Francis focused on the three imperatives that God gives the Father of Faith: “Arise!” “Look out!” “Be hopeful!”

“When Abraham was called, he was more or less our age,” Pope Francis said to the elder statesmen of the Church. “He was going to retire, to go into retirement for some rest – he started out at that age.” “An old man,” the Pope continued, “with the weight of old age, old age that brings pain, illness – but [God said to him], as if he were a young man, ‘Get up, go, go! As if he were a scout: go! Look and hope!’”

The Holy Father went on to say that the message God gave to Abraham in that day, He also gives to each of those present in this day: to be on the way, about the journey; to look toward the ever-retreating horizon, and to hope without stint, despite it all.

“There are those, who do not love us, who say that we are the ‘Gerontocracy’ of the Church. This is mere mockery. Whoever says so knows not what he says. We are not tired old fools [It. geronti]: we are grandfathers. And if we do not feel this, we must ask the grace to feel that it is so. We are grandfathers, to whom our grandchildren look – grandparents who, with our experience, must share with those grandchildren a sense of what life is really about – grandparents not closed off in melancholy over our salad days, but open to give this [gift] of meaning, of sense. For us, then, this threefold imperative: ‘Arise! Look outward! Hope!” is called ‘dreaming’. We are grandfathers called to dream and to pass on our dream to today’s youth: they need it, that they might take from our dreams the power to prophesy and carry on their work.”

After the Mass, the Holy Father greeted the Cardinal-concelebrants one-by-one. He also greeted members of the household staff and the professional staff of the Secretariat for Communications, who had done the live Vatican Radio commentary for the liturgy in several languages, including English.




The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, Bishop Antoine Audo, was present in Malmo, Sweden, for the one-day event with Catholics and Lutherans that marked the start of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Bishop Audo, who is head of Caritas Syria, addressed the gathering Monday and made a heartfelt appeal for his fellow Christians, for Christianity and for “our beloved Syria” in the presence of the Holy Father. Pope Francis arrived Sweden late Monday morning to join Lutherans in commemorating this anniversary.


Bishop Audo began his touching, moving testimonial by telling the faithful that, “almost all of the hospitals have been destroyed and 80% of the doctors have left Aleppo. In Syria, 3 million children no longer go to school. Physical and moral exhaustion has touched everyone, especially the poorest and among them, children and adolescents and the elderly.”

The Chaldean prelate added that, “our greatest sadness is seeing the rich and marvelous Christianity of this land is disappearing. He appealed to “the Christians of the world, Muslims of the East and West and all people of good will: Do not allow our beloved Syria to be destroyed and fragmented.”

The bishop also announced that, “Become Christians Together” is the motto of Christian humanitarian work in Syria, adding that that work “is focusing on how serving Christ must include serving others, especially the poorest and most needy.”

Immediately after his testimony, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and President of the Lutheran World Federation, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, read in Arabic and in English a prayer for Syria and Iraq. “May the Lord of history  change hearts,” “may peace can be stabilized among nations on the basis of justice and human rights,” and “may the spirit of peace descend on the peoples of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.”



In his homily this morning at Mass for the small Catholic population of Sweden, Pope Francis focussed on the Beatitudes as recounted in the day’s Gospel according to Matthew, and added some “new” Beatitudes of his own.

In what was the final event of his overnight stay in southern Sweden to mark the start of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Holy Father celebrated Mass under gray skies and very chilly temperatures in a stadium in Malmo, where the faithful included Catholics from other Nordic countries as well as Filippino immigrants who work in these nations. (photo:


“The Beatitudes,” said Francis, “are the image of Christ and consequently of each Christian.  Here I would like to mention only one: ‘Blessed are the meek’.  Jesus says of himself: ‘Learn from me for I am meek and lowly in heart’.  This is his spiritual portrait and it reveals the abundance of his love.  Meekness is a way of living and acting that draws us close to Jesus and to one another.  It enables us to set aside everything that divides and estranges us, and to find ever new ways to advance along the path of unity.

He explained that “the Beatitudes are in some sense the Christian’s identity card.  They identify us as followers of Jesus.  We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus.  Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy.”

Pope Francis then created his own list of six Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart.  Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness.  Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him.  Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.  Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.  Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.  All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.”

Pope Francis’ homily was quite beautiful, encouraging all of us aim high, as the saints did, and to remember that today’s Solemnity of All Saints, is a “celebration of holiness.  A holiness that is seen not so much in great deeds and extraordinary events, but rather in daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism.  A holiness that consists in the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters.  A love that remains faithful to the point of self-renunciation and complete devotion to others.”

Click here for that full homily:


Following Mass in the Malmo stadium Tuesday, Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis had a message for the faithful before reciting the Angelus. Thanking God for his visit, Francis said, “As Catholics, we are part of a great family and are sustained in the same communion.  I encourage you to express your faith in prayer, in the sacraments, and in generous service to those who are suffering and in need.  I urge you to be salt and light, wherever you find yourselves, through the way you live and act as followers of Jesus, and to show great respect and solidarity with our brothers and sisters of other churches and Christian communities, and with all people of good will.” (photo


The Pope noted that, “In our life, we are not alone; we have the constant help and companionship of the Virgin Mary.  Today she stands before us as first among the saints, the first disciple of the Lord.  We flee to her protection and to her we present our sorrows and our joys, our fears and our aspirations.  We put everything under her protection, in the sure knowledge that she watches over us and cares for us with a mother’s love.

Francis asked those present to keep him in their prayers, adding, “I keep you all very present in my own. Now, together, let us turn to Our Lady and pray the Angelus.”

Earlier the Pope expressed his “gratitude to Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm for his kind words, and to the civil authorities and all who helped in the planning and execution of this visit.” He also greeted the president and the secretary general of the Lutheran World Federation, the archbishop of the Church of Sweden, members of the ecumenical delegations and the diplomatic corps present for the occasion.



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called making war in the name of religion “satanic” and a “blasphemy.”

His words came in an interview with the Jesuit Catholic journal La Civilta Cattolica ahead of his ecumenical apostolic trip to Sweden. The interview was conducted by Father Ulf Jonsson S.J., the director of the Swedish cultural journal of the Jesuits, Signum.

Pope Francis mentioned the recent interreligious meeting for peace in Assisi, which he called “very important.”

“All of us talked of peace and we asked for peace,” – the Pope said – “ We together said strong words for  peace, what the religions truly want.”

When asked about the suffering of the Christians in the Middle East, Pope Francis called the region “a land of martyrs.”

“I believe that the Lord does not leave his people on their own,” said the Holy Father. “He will not abandon them. When we read of the hard trials of the people of Israel in the Bible or remember the trials of the martyrs, we see how the Lord always comes to the aid of his people.”

The purpose of the trip to Sweden is to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and much of the discussion in the interview covered ecumenical affairs.

Speaking about the mutual enrichment possible between Christian communities, the Pope was asked what Catholics could learn from Lutherans.

“Two  words  come  to  my  mind:  ‘reform’ and  ‘Scripture’,” – Pope Francis said – “I will try to explain. The first is the word ‘reform’.  At the beginning, Luther’s was a gesture of reform in a difficult time for the Church. Luther wanted to remedy a complex situation.  Then this gesture —also  because  of  the  political  situations,  we  think  also  of  the cuius  regio  eius religio (whose realm , his religion) —became a ‘state’ of separation, and not a process of reform of the whole Church, which is fundamental,  because the Church is semper reformanda (always  reforming).”

“The second  word  is  ‘Scripture’,  the  Word  of  God,” – the Pope continued – “Luther took a great step by putting the Word of God into the hands of the people. Reform and Scripture are two things that we can deepen by looking at the Lutheran tradition. The General  Congregations  before  the  Conclave comes  to  mind and how the request for a reform was alive in our discussions.”

The Holy Father was later asked about how the ecumenical movement can move forward. He responded by saying “theological dialogue must continue,” and pointing to the Joint Declaration on Justification as an important point, but added “it will not be easy to go forward because of the different ways of understanding some  theological questions.”

“Personally, I believe that enthusiasm must shift towards common prayer and the works of mercy — work done together to help the sick, the poor, and the imprisoned,” – Pope Francis said – “To do  something  together is a high and effective form of dialogue.   I also think about education.  It is important to work together and not in a sectarian way. There is a policy we should have clear in every case: to proselytize in the ecclesial field is a sin.”

The full text of the interview can be found on the website of La Civiltà Cattolica here: