A retired bishop says Cardinal George Pell is an "embarrassment" to "a lot of good Catholic people" and should no longer be the voice of Australian bishops in the wake of his comments about child sex abuse within the church.
Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, blamed a smear campaign against the Catholic Church for public pressure that led to a royal commission into child sex abuse.
He said on Tuesday that the commission would help separate fact from fiction after a "persistent press campaign" and "general smears that we [the church] are covering up and moving people around".
But Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, from Sydney, said on ABC radio on Wednesday that bishops had to confront Cardinal Pell at a meeting to be held at the end of the month.
He said Cardinal Pell was not a team player; that he had always done his own thing, and that he was doing it "very badly indeed".
"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," Bishop Robinson said.
"You know, [bishops] need to take pretty decisive action. I mean, there's going to be a royal commission of course, and the thing there is to cooperate with it fully, and they need to make that resolution of course.
"But the other issue I think is that of having some united voice, having someone who does speak for them and in doing that, I do think they're actually going to have to confront George Pell head-on.
"I don't think he'd like it. He wouldn't, and he'd probably speak anyway, but at least it could be made clear that he's speaking strictly for himself."
Bishop Robinson said that while the role of archbishop was decided outside Australia, bishops could choose another person to speak on their behalf.
The Archdiocese of Sydney media office has been contacted for comment.
Cardinal Pell also said at a press conference on Tuesday that he supported the Royal Commission as it focused on abuse linked to other groups and not solely the Catholic Church.
"We are not interested in denying the extent of misdoing in the Catholic Church. We object to it being exaggerated. We object to being described as the only cab on the rank," he said.