A leading Catholic cleric has hit out at the "criticism and mud-slinging" between politicians and public that is characterising the general election campaign.
In his first public comment on the most important national election in modern times, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin yesterday called on Christians in Ireland to be vocal about the values they want for "a caring" society.
Addressing a church celebration of the World Day of the Sick in Clontarf, Co Dublin, Archbishop Martin said: "We stand at an important moment regarding the future of our Irish society."
In a difficult economic situation, Christians as individuals, as citizens and as voters, were called on to be discerning with regard to their Christian values, the archbishop said.
"In a climate marked too often only by criticism and mud-slinging, we Christians are called to drive for a sense of common purpose regarding the type of society we wish our political leaders to generate and the values that we would wish to see enshrined in that society," Dr Martin said.
"Our celebration which places the sick and the weak at the centre of its reflection cannot but generate in us a desire to ensure that our sick and marginalised will encounter a society in which they are respected, where each and every one of them receives the highest possible care."
Dr Martin said Christians could not but aspire to see a society in which the elderly lived their latter years in tranquillity and security.
The sick and dying also challenged Catholics to work for the renewal of their church so that it could "truly be a community built up around the message and the presence of Jesus Christ".