Archbishop Eamon Martin has called on politicians here to avoid using ‘denigrating and divisive language’ ahead of the Assembly election.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland said that there was an onus on all politicians to consider carefully their “responsibility and noble vocation to work for the common good”.
The Derry man was speaking amid concerns that the period leading up the election could see tensions rise following the collapse of the institutions at Stormont.
In a direct message to politicians, Archbishop Martin said: “The premature collapse of our political institutions so soon after the last election is a serious matter for all of us and cannot be taken lightly. The sense I am picking up from people on the ground is that it risks further disillusionment with the political process.
“We understand that it takes courage and generosity to stand for public office. But it also brings a trusted responsibility for leadership and integrity which can never be taken for granted.
“All of us need to have confidence in you - and especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, the poor, those who struggle daily to bring up their families and make ends meet.”
Archbishop Martin said a politicians call to public service involves making sacrifices, offering compromise and building bridges to overcome barriers as they arise.
“We have all learned through bitter experience that wrong is never all on one side - too many families among us still grieve the losses, or nurse the wounds of sectarianism and hatred,” he said.
“We do not want that for our children and grandchildren.
“Other troubled parts of the world look to us as a sign of hope that peace can be achieved.
“Continue to work to sustain the painstaking progress which many of you and your predecessors helped to deliver.
“Help to bring us further along the road to lasting peace, a shared future and prosperity for all. Do not resort to predictable, wearisome slogans or denigrating, divisive language.
“ Like many in the community, the churches are available to assist you in any way. We will certainly pray for you in the coming weeks.”