Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo told Vatican Radio: “If there is an armed intervention, that would mean, I believe, a world war. That risk has returned.”
The Syrian prelate was speaking as Britain and the US discussed plans for military action in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria last week, plans strongly opposed by Russia and Iran.
“We hope that the Pope’s call for real dialogue between the warring parties to find a solution can be a first step to stop the fighting,” he said.
The Vatican’s semi-official daily, L’Osservatore Romano, meanwhile criticised Western powers in an editorial and called for greater “prudence”.
“The drumbeat of an armed intervention by Western powers is becoming ever more insistent and ever less restrained by prudence,” it said.
Pope Francis on Sunday called for the international community to help find a solution to the civil war.
“I launch an appeal to the international community to be more sensitive to this tragic situation and to commit itself to the maximum to help the dear Syrian nation find a solution to a war which spreads destruction and death,” he said during his Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square.
“The rise of violence in a war between brothers and sisters, with increasing massacres and atrocious acts, which we have all been able to witness in the terrible images in these days, prompts me to once again raise my voice so that the sound of arms might be silenced,” he continued.
In his appeal on Sunday, Pope Francis reiterated earlier condemnations of the fratricidal violence, saying the only prospect for resolving the Syrian war was an “encounter and dialogue” between the opposing factions.