Ireland's Catholic bishops warned this week that the nations economic crisis, and the glaring disparities between rich and poor, could eventually lead to violence and "incalculable suffering" throughout the country.
In a new document issued days before Friday's general election, the bishops criticised six-figure salaries paid to top executives while cuts are being made to the minimum wage and to state pensions.
"It is our belief that the wounds generated by the crisis run deep and, if allowed to fester, could engender a cultural climate in which the spectre of social fragmentation and violence cannot be ruled out," the bishops told the press.
"As we who live on the island are all too aware, if such violence were to be unleashed, it would cause incalculable suffering and herald a period of political and social instability which could take a long time to heal."
The document was issued by the bishops' Council for Justice and Peace, and they denied they were promoting a political manifesto ahead of Friday's vote.
Instead, the bishops said, they are presenting a "vision for the country" at a time when emigration and rising unemployment are creating "insecurity and even despair amongst some."
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