The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Robin Eames, has expressed his concerns about the human cost of a possible conflict in Iraq.
In a letter to the Times newspaper, Archbishop Eames said, "Current debate on a possible conflict in Iraq raises serious issues for those who have accepted the traditional definition of 'a just war'.
"No one can doubt that any modern conflict causes immense suffering to a civilian population. Evidence abounds that it is impossible to guarantee all avoidance of death and injury to what Scripture terms 'the poor' in any such conflict.
"In the case of Iraq, no one can estimate with confidence the proportion of such suffering to the innocent. Irrespective of individual views on the rights and wrongs of any proposed military action, it can be argued that the time is opportune to re-examine the traditional principles of the just war.
"Surely there is justification, in the light of experience and the probable consequences of any forthcoming action, to accept an additional requirement to take account of the humanitarian considerations which will inevitably arise.
"Such an addition could embrace a willingness and definite intention on the part of any nation to match military action with humanitarian relief. Only then would the traditional principles stand current scrutiny - whether from the Christian or other stand-point."