Archbishop Eamon Martin has spoken of how Martin McGuinness warm and friendly manner had helped “melt away suspicion and build trust”.
Eamon Martin was speaking as he delivered a poignant tribute to his fellow Derry man after the former Deputy First Minister passed away on Tuesday morning.
The Catholic Primate of All Ireland said: “Like many people I was shocked before Christmas to hear about the serious illness of Martin McGuinness, and, despite our hopes and prayers for his recovery, today I am saddened to learn that he has died.
“My first thoughts are with his dear wife Bernie, his children, grandchildren, brothers and sister, and all his many friends and loved ones.
“I will remember Martin as someone who chose personally to leave behind the path of violence and to walk instead along the more challenging path of peace and reconciliation.
“As a leader he was courageous and took risks in order to bring others with him, convincing them that goals could be achieved by politics and persuasion.
“He channelled his many gifts into creating and sustaining the peace process of which he was one of the key architects.”
Archbishop Martin said he had “no doubt” that Martin’s faith and relationship with God guided him along this journey.
“He was a man of prayer and I am personally grateful for his good wishes and encouragement to me, as a fellow Derry man, in my own vocation.”
The story of conflict in Ireland has brought much pain and trauma, Archbishop Martin said, adding: “I thank God that in recent years we have preferred peace to the horror of violence and war.
“People like Martin McGuinness have made an immense contribution to sustaining peace by reaching out a hand of friendship and reconciliation and being prepared to model alternatives to dispute and division.
“Martin’s personal warmth and open, friendly personality was able to melt away suspicion and help build trust with those coming from very different perspectives.
“Being grounded in love for his family, community and native city of Derry, he understood the importance of a peaceful, just and prosperous future for all. Martin was ambitious for peace. He knew that peace was worth striving for and was within reach in his life time.
“A fitting legacy for Martin would be a redoubling of efforts on all our parts to find solutions to our current problems and continue along the journey to a shared future. May he rest in peace. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.”