A former Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney has levelled harsh criticism at the current Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, over his handling of the sex abuse allegations in New South Wales.
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson says Australia's most senior Catholic figure is an embarrassment.
Bishop Robinson says priests must be prepared to break the confessional seal if it is for the "greater good".
He says Cardinal Pell is out of step with the majority of Australia's bishops and should no longer speak for the Catholic Church in Australia on the issue of sexual abuse by the clergy.
He was speaking to the ABC's The World Today, after Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the issue of whether priests should be forced to reveal information given to them in the confessional would be considered by the upcoming royal commission into institutionalised sexual abuse.
Cardinal Pell believes the sanctity of the confession should be inviolable.
Bishop Robinson, who won international attention for his published work on the need for the church to confront the abuse problem, said he believed Cardinal Pell was "not a team player".
"He never has been. Now, on this subject too he's not consulting with anyone else, he's simply doing his own thing.
"I personally believe he's doing it very badly indeed and I think the other Australian bishops, as one of the very first questions they need to face, they've got to confront him and determine who it is that speaks in their name and who doesn't," he told The World Today.
"The other bishops would have to speak for themselves, but I have to say that on this subject he's a great embarrassment to me and to a lot of good Catholic people."