A County Antrim priest has called on Cardinal Desmond Connell to resign over his handling of child sex abuse by priests in Ireland.

Father Patrick McCafferty, from Lisburn, made the call today in an open letter to the Irish News in Belfast. He accused church leaders of being guilty of 'the most stunning arrogance and breathtaking indifference to real human anguish'.

Father McCafferty said the Catholic Church had shown 'wicked contempt for survivors of clerical abuse'. He said that when he had tried to highlight it through the pulpit he had been regarded as a troublemaker by certain ecclesiastical grandees, who had refused to be influenced.

Father McCafferty said that they should now follow the lead of Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archbishop of Boston who resigned last week. Cardinal Connell admitted earlier this year he had made mistakes in dealing with complaints of abuse.

However a group representing victims of clerical sex abuse has disagreed sharply with the County Antrim priest. Colm O'Gorman, Director of the victims' group One in Four, said resignation would solve nothing and that the crisis should be sorted out before church leaders took individual decisions about their own position.