Labor senator Kristina Keneally has blasted Melbourne's Catholic archbishop for his response to Cardinal George Pell losing his appeal against child sexual abuse convictions.
Senator Keneally, herself a prominent Catholic, said she was gobsmacked Archbishop Peter Comensoli maintained Pell was innocent and questioned whether his victim was mistaken.
"It's distressing for so many reasons," she told Sky News on Sunday.
Archbishop Comensoli has also said he would sooner go to prison than comply with proposed Victorian laws making it mandatory for priests to report suspected child abuse to authorities.
"Here we have an archbishop just declaring he is going to break the law rather than report a child sexual abuse that is revealed to him in the confessional," Senator Keneally said.
"I can't understand how he can stand in front of the Australian people and make that statement, given all the evidence that has come out of the royal commission in relation to the Catholic church and child sexual abuse."
Senator Keneally also contrasted the response to his comments to a "near meltdown" among conservatives when union leader Sally McManus said she would be willing to break unjust laws to protect workers.
"I don't understand in our wider community, and particularly within some of the commentariat, why there isn't the same level of condemnation for him that there was for people like Sally McManus when she made her statement.
"It's a double standard, if you ask me."
Australian Associated Press