Local Bishop Reacts To Pope's Stunning Interview

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In an interview released this week, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church has focused too much on what he calls "small-minded rules."

He also said:

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards."

Francis' predecessors Pope Benedict and John Paul II placed heavy emphasis on strict moral teachings. 

So, is the new pope signaling a new direction for the Catholic Church?

"He made it clear that the teachings of the Church haven't changed in that regard. The new pope doesn't come on board and all of the sudden the timeless teachings of the Church do a 180," said Bishop Terry LaValley of the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

LaValley says the pope is working to make the Church a merciful, welcoming place for all.

"I think sometimes we get so wrapped up, if you will, in the letter of the law that it paralyzes our ministry," said LaValley.

The pope's remarks come as Bishop LaValley prepares to celebrate 25 years in the priesthood. 

He's also getting ready to welcome a Vatican VIP to the diocese. 

The Papal Nuncio will celebrate mass next Sunday at the Olympic Arena in Lake Placid.

"He is the Holy Father's personal representative to the church of America and so we are just so privileged and honored to have him come in and celebrate that mass," said LaValley.

Catholics and non-Catholics alike are welcome to attend the mass.

At least 2,000 people are expected.

The diocese is even organizing bus transportation from local parishes:

• St. Patrick's Pastoral Center office, Watertown, 315-782-6086

• St. Mary's Cathedral, Ogdensburg, 315-393-3930

• St. Mary's, Canton, 315-386-2543

• St. Patrick's, Brasher Falls, 315-389-5401

• Sacred Heart, Chazy, 518-846-7650

• St. John's, Plattsburgh, 518-563-0730

• Malone Catholic Parishes office at 518-483-1300

• St. Mary's, Ticonderoga, 518-585-7144

• St. Peter's in Lowville at 315-376-6662

See Bishop LaValley's interview on 7 News at Noon

Sunday, September 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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