While Pope Benedict is in the United States, I hope he notices a few things: Nancy Pelosi adeptly leading the House of Representatives. Hillary Clinton running an intelligent, competent presidential campaign. Over 24,000 female lay ministers serving U.S. Catholic parishes.

I hope the pope has the eyes to see the valuable contributions women make to our country's public life and to Catholicism's faith life.

Pope Benedict has promised more female leadership roles in Vatican offices, but no appointments have materialized yet. Next October, there will be an International Synod on the Word at the Vatican. I ask the pope to invite female biblical scholars to contribute their wisdom and experience at the Synod. Then maybe the worldwide Catholic Church will see what we in the United States already know: Women's voices are worth being heard, and their leadership is an indispensable part of our communal and faith life.