Sister Pat Farrell, OSFThis interview rocks! Sister Pat Farrell, OSF, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, talked with Terry Gross on the NPR program Fresh Air on Tuesday.

During the interview, Sister Farrell addressed the main areas of concern raised in the “Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious” by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: (a) the LCWR’s assemblies and conferences, (b) policies of “corporate dissent” and (c) “radical feminism.” I was deeply impressed with her insightfulness, directness, and respect.

I’ve included (see below) a couple of excerpts from the interview. You can read more excerpts and listen to the recorded interview on the Fresh Air website.

You also may want to tune in to Fresh Air next week, when Terry Gross interviews Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio. Bishop Blair had a major role in the doctrinal assessment of LCWR and will work with the Vatican’s appointee, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, on next steps with LCWR.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the interview, on the Fresh Air website:

On questioning doctrine within the Catholic Church

“The question is, ‘Can you be Catholic and have a questioning mind?’ That’s what we’re asking. … I think one of our deepest hopes is that in the way we manage the balancing beam in the position we’re in, if we can make any headways in helping to create a safe and respectful environment where church leaders along with rank-and-file members can raise questions openly and search for truth freely, with very complex and swiftly changing issues in our day, that would be our hope. But the climate is not there. And this mandate coming from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith putting us in a position of being under the control of certain bishops, that is not a dialogue. If anything, it appears to be shutting down dialogue.”

On the criticism from the Vatican regarding human sexuality

“We have been, in good faith, raising concerns about some of the church’s teachings on sexuality. The problem being that the teaching and interpretation of the faith can’t remain static and really needs to be reformulated, rethought in light of the world we live in. And new questions and new realities [need to be addressed] as they arise. And if those issues become points of conflict, it’s because Women Religious stand in very close proximity to people at the margins, to people with very painful, difficult situations in their lives. That is our gift to the church. Our gift to the church is to be with those who have been made poorer, with those on the margins. Questions there are much less black and white because human realities are much less black and white. That’s where we spend our days.”