LA CROSSE, Wis. -- -

As the new pope is announced, local nuns are speaking out about their hopes for the next chapter in the Catholic Church.

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have one main hope for the new pope -- that he will be a leader willing to listen and have an open conversation.

They say it's an important and necessary quality to help the church face new challenges.

"One of the biggest issues would be openness to dialogue," said Sister Eileen McKenzie.

"I hope that they will be open-minded. I hope that they will be able to dialogue with many diverse groups," said Sister Ronalda Hophan.

The sisters say openness is crucial to reverse a disturbing trend they've seen in the Catholic Church during the past few years.

"So many people have left the Catholic Church in recent years and are still leaving," said Hophan.

"I think that there are a lot of people that are leaving the church because they don't feel either they are listened to or it is relevant and that is deeply saddening to me," said McKenzie.

Hophan says it's especially important to stay open-minded to what have been traditionally non-negotiable issues in the church.

"It's obvious that there's a great, what shall I say, not a misunderstanding but not exactly feeling heard on the ideas of contraception. I think they need to be heard even though things might not change," said Hophan.

She says it's also important to make sure women feel like equals.

"Women in general are feeling kind of like second-class citizens in the church. I know that in some parishes women are not allowed to be readers or Eucharistic ministers or anything like that. Why not?" said Hophan.

While there is a lot at stake, the sisters say, the church is in good hands.

"If we trust God everything will go well. Whatever happens will be for the best. Something good will come out of it no matter what," said Hophan.

Another main issue the sisters talked about was embracing how quickly technology is moving.

They say it's important to use it as a way to reach more people.

There are about 270 Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration serving the Coulee Region.