Church of England and Roman Catholic theologians are working to come up with new approaches to what might be considered a “just war” in the modern world of international terrorism. The plans have grown out of a concern among bishops that they have lost the initiative to the Government and that the churches' opposition to the war in Iraq weakened a traditional role of providing advice at times of crisis reports the Times newspaper. However, for more radical Christians, opposition to the invasion of Iraq from many church leaders marked a healthy shift away from previous justifications for war by the church which were seen as contradicting Jesus' commands, as recorded in the Gospels, to pursue non-violent solutions to conflict. Religious just-war theory was originally developed by St Augustine and shaped in the 13th century by Thomas Aquinas. The theory was developed after the church became allied with the state and had to square its previous commitments to non-violence with the actions of Government. The proposals for change, to be set out in a document to be published next Easter, may disappoint more radical Christians who would like to see a more substantial commitment to non-violence and feel that new 'just-war' theories won't make churches more effective in advising governments when facing situations such as Iraq, but only compromise the churches' message. Just War theory has been used down the centuries to justify many different military actions, and critics say its criteria have been so vague and open to interpretation than they can be employed to provide justification for almost any military action. The paper noted that, while traditional just-war theory has at times sanctioned anticipatory self-defence, humanitarian intervention and even preventive action, it does not address the “moral and political hazards” associated with pre-emptive military action. One insider said: “We were looking at the just-war criteria. We were trying to seek a way we can use them against weapons of mass destruction, rogue regimes and terrorism. It was one of the most important ecumenical initiatives that has taken place in a long time. All the peaceniks will have heart attacks.” A Church of England working party on just-war theory has reported back to bishops and their report will be finalised at a meeting next week before debate at General Synod.