MENLO PARK — A prominent member of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy who will take part in the selection of the next pope said Monday retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony should also participate in the process.

Cardinal William Levada made the comments at a Menlo Park seminary ahead of his trip to the Vatican to help with the selection of the next pope.

Levada's comments came in the wake of a grass-roots campaign to shame Mahony into refraining from participating because of his role protecting sexually abusive priests. Mahony has been shown to have covered up for other priests who raped and molested children.

Mahony has said he would participate in the voting for the new pope.

Levada also said he has no problem with a decision by Pope Benedict to not release an investigation into Vatican leaks to the cardinals prior to the gathering to select the next Pope.

Levada is scheduled to leave for the Vatican on Tuesday. He said he will look for a man of faith who has shown leadership ability and has language skills to serve as the next pope

It's helpful for the pope to have some linguistic ability because he's dealing with so many people around the world on a daily basis, Levada said.

"I don't know what the Las Vegas odds makers are saying today, I hear it changes every day," he said. "I don't think it's likely that we would see an American pope. It would be an additional complexity for an American pope to have to deal with the perception that some of his decisions might be perceived to be dictated by American governmental policy."