New Zealand Catholic Bishops have welcomed the decision to send personnel to combat the Islamic State and urged Christians to pray for those in the Middle East.

Cardinal John Dew said New Zealand could no longer watch from the sidelines as ISIS inflicts "immense suffering and brutality" on the Iraqi people.

"Pope Francis has said that it is "licit to stop an unjust aggressor". If by providing training to the Iraqi Army we can assist them to stop the aggressor in their land, then as a matter of promoting the common good we should provide that assistance," Cardinal Dew said.

"Substantial humanitarian support should also be part of New Zealand's involvement in Iraq."


The Catholic Bishops include the Bishop of Auckland, Hamilton, Dunedin, Christchurch, Palmerston North and Cardinal Dew of Wellington.

New Zealand's membership of the United Nations Security Council currently gave it a unique position in global affairs, Cardinal Dew said, and could be used to advocate for further sanctions and other actions to stop the flow of arms to ISIS.

"We urge Christians to pray unceasingly for the people of the Middle East and we pray for global leaders in their efforts to stop those who inflict this brutality on others."