Bishops call for 'good neighbours'
Communities and neighbours have been called on to rally together to tackle poverty and social exclusion during the recession.
Catholic bishops said they were conscious dramatic economic events led to exceptional levels of fear, anger and disillusionment but believe blame and recrimination is futile and distracts from building a more just, sustainable and prosperous future.
With charities barely meeting soaring demands for basic needs like accommodation, food, fuel and clothing, the senior churchmen said it is easy to descend into a culture of negativity, defeatism and despair.
But the clergy urged people to show national solidarity and hope, and have renewed confidence to work together for the good of all.
They said: "The people of Ireland have always shown resilience when faced with situations of great challenge in the past. We believe in our ability as a nation to address the challenges that confront us now.
"One of the strongest grounds for hope is that Ireland is blessed with people of extraordinary generosity, good neighbourliness and social concern.
"Knowing that someone cares, that someone is willing to listen and help can mean as much to a person or family in financial distress as the help they receive with material needs. There is no substitute for good neighbourliness and human friendship.
"We take this opportunity to appeal for a new mobilisation of good neighbourliness and practical care for others in our local communities, of people giving generously of their time and talents as well as their money and goods to tackle poverty and social exclusion."
The bishops from the north and south of the island spoke out after a one-day meeting in Maynooth.
They said high levels of unemployment had a demoralising impact on individuals and communities, with the upheaval of emigration facing many Irish families.