The newly appointed Bishop of Durham has pledged to tackle child poverty in the region as he was unveiled in the role.
The Right Reverend Paul Butler, who is currently Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, was yesterday announced as the successor to Justin Welby – now Archbishop of Canterbury – and will begin the role in the New Year.
The 57-year-old Bishop, who has a wife called Rosemary and four grown children, was at Durham Cathedral yesterday to meet the congregation and talk about his priorities.
Bishop Paul told the busy cathedral he plans to “get out and about meeting people on the ground” and sees worklessness, poverty and engaging young people as central concerns.
He said: “These are important issues for all communities but never more so than here in the North East today. I have a strong commitment to engaging with children and young people, through schools, in church and community-based activities. I have a particular concern around child poverty, social, economic and spiritual.
“Tackling poverty together must also be a priority. Together as communities, with the church in all its forms playing a key role, we must seek to see what we can do ourselves as well as look to support from elsewhere. Poverty is a scourge that we can only tackle together. I recognise that it is found in urban and rural communities. In my role in the House of Lords I will want to speak up strongly for this region, advocating for its specific needs.”
Bishop Paul, a strong supporter for the campaign for female Bishops, said: “This is beautiful area of the country; full of great people and great places. We need to work together to attract people here.
“People who will visit as tourists; people who will bring business and employment, and in church terms people who will serve as leaders in our churches.”
Bishop Paul said he is both excited and daunted by the challenge of his new job.
He is an avid user of Twitter and other social networking sites and writes his own blog Through The Eyes Of A Bishop.
The former student of history, who is also chairman of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, said: “To be called to become Bishop of Durham came as a big surprise but is a huge privilege for many reasons.
“This ancient Diocese goes way back before England was a united nation. The heritage is extraordinary; each new Bishop of Durham stands on the shoulders of some of the greatest Christians in this country’s long and proud history.”