THE next Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, at present
Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, said last week that he hoped
other clergy would be inspired to come to the north-east and other
areas that have struggled to recruit priests.
"One of the things that has mystified me for years is that those
of us who sign up to be followers of Jesus Christ and ministers of
the gospel, if we say we will go anywhere and do anything for
Jesus, why it is that not so many people seem willing to go to
different places?" he said on Thursday last week, the day his
nomination was announced.
Bishop Butler, who is 57, has been Bishop of Southwell &
Nottingham since February 2010. He was previously Bishop of
Southampton in the diocese of Winchester. He trained for the
ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and served a curacy between 1983
and 1987 at All Saints with Holy Trinity, Wandsworth, in Southwark
He was deputy head of mission at the Scripture Union before
becoming Priest-in-Charge of St Mary with St Stephen and of St
Luke, Walthamstow in 1994. He was Team Rector in the Walthamstow
Team Ministry from 1997 to 2004.
Last month, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a former Bishop of
Durham, defended the north-east after a Conservative peer described
it as "desolate" (News, 2
The last financial report for the diocese indicated that it
would have six fewer clergy in 2013 than planned. The diocese has
the smallest financial resources of any diocese in the Church of
It was reported on the same day as the Bishop's nomination that
the unemployment rate in the north-east is the highest in the
country at 10.4 per-cent, compared with 5.8 per-cent in the
south-east. The region has the highest percentage of children
living in workless households (22.4 per cent), and the lowest
levels of income (£13,560 per head in 2011).
Bishop Butler said, none the less, that he was delighted to be
coming to Durham, a "beautiful area of the country", with an
"extraordinary heritage. . . Each new Bishop of Durham stands on
the shoulders of some of the greatest Christians in this country's
long and proud history."
Poverty was a priority, he said: "a scourge that we can only
tackle together. . . In my role in the House of Lords, I will want
to speak up strongly for this region, advocating for its specific
On same-sex marriage, the Bishop said that his position would be
viewed as "traditional, orthodox, in terms of my view of marriage
between a man and a woman, but I also believe that we need to look
at that, and think through how we respond best to those committing
themselves to life-long same-sex relationships. I have a deep
concern about sexual licence and freedom in all its forms -
stability has to be something we look for and encourage. At
present, I would not be in a position to feel we could offer
blessings of same-sex unions, but I recognise that it is an ongoing
discussion. We have to keep working at that."
With regard to women bishops, he said that he had emerged from
the July meeting of the Synod "quite hopeful that this latest
process may produce something that a majority of us can coalesce
Bishop Butler will continue to chair the Churches National
Safeguarding Committee. In July, he apologised to victims of
safeguarding failures. The Church of England had "failed, big time"
His books include Reaching Children and Reaching
Families (Scripture Union). He spoke on Thursday of a "strong
commitment" to engaging with children and young people, and a
"particular concern around child poverty, social, economic, and
An honorary canon of Byumba in Rwanda, he is a regular visitor
to Africa. Last month, he warned that Burundi was getting a "raw
deal" from the world (News, 23
He is married to Rosemary. They have four grown-up children, two
of whom took to Twitter today to describe how hard it had been to
keep the nomination a secret. The Bishop's own Twitter account
reveals a taste for Strictly Come Dancing.