The Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Sean Brady, has said he is looking forward to working with the DUP on issues such as health and education.
Archbishop Sean Brady has said powersharing is the only way forward
He said that engagement would show normal standards of decency, respect and tolerance are central to a more mature and confident Northern Ireland.
The archbishop said Catholics needed to be reassured about the willingness of all parties to share power.
A solution based on anything else would be very problematic, he added.
Archbishop Brady was speaking at an event in Italy organised by the British embassy.
He said he was optimistic that in upcoming months "significant, at one time unthinkable developments, will emerge which have the potential to unlock the last doors to a stable peace and the sharing of power at a local level in Northern Ireland.
"At the end of the day, Northern Ireland is a story of immense progress which should be a source of hope to other places in the world."
Meanwhile Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has said that DUP "attempts to wreck the peace process" must not succeed.
Speaking ahead of a two-day visit to Washington and New York, Mr McGuinness said outstanding issues in the process must be resolved and the Good Friday Agreement implemented in full.
"In their discussions with the DUP the British and Irish governments must make clear that there will be no dilution of the agreement," Mr McGuinness said.
"There is a particular responsibility on the Irish government to adopt a more assertive and active role in this process."
SDLP leader Mark Durkan has said the two governments must not allow the DUP and Sinn Fein to dictate the pace of progress in the process.
"They need to tell the Rev Ian Paisley that one third of the vote in the
north going to the DUP does not make him the sole arbiter of the political process," Mr Durkan said.
"They need to tell Gerry Adams that just because he has finally asked the IRA to do what the (Good Friday) Agreement has requested the IRA to do for seven years, that doesn't make him the sole author of political progress."
Mr Durkan was speaking after meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin.