Paul Butler
Bishop of Durham
Official portrait, 2019
ChurchChurch of England
Installed22 February 2014
PredecessorJustin Welby
Other post(s)Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham (2010–2014)
Bishop of Southampton (2004–2009)
Ordination1983 (deacon); 1984 (priest)
by Ronald Bowlby
Consecration24 June 2004[1][2]
by Rowan Williams
Personal details
Born (1955-09-18) 18 September 1955 (age 67)
Alma materUniversity of Nottingham
Member of the House of Lords
(Lord Spiritual)
Assumed office
18 December 2013

Paul Roger Butler (born 18 September 1955) is a British Anglican bishop and a Lord Spiritual of the House of Lords. He is the Bishop of Durham, the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Durham: his election was confirmed on 20 January 2014[4] and he was installed and enthroned in Durham Cathedral on 22 February 2014. On 12 September 2013 it was announced that he had been appointed as bishop-designate of Durham (succeeding Justin Welby.)[5] He was previously bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.[6] He was installed at Southwell Minster on 27 February 2010.[7] He served as the suffragan bishop of Southampton in the Diocese of Winchester from 2004 until 2010.[8]

Early life

Butler was educated at Kingston Grammar School and received a BA in English and history with honours from the University of Nottingham in 1977. He worked for the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF) in their Bookstall Service (1978–1980) before training for Ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford from 1980 to 1983.

Ordained ministry

He was ordained a deacon at Petertide (on 3 July) 1983[9] and a priest the following Petertide (1 July 1984), both times by Bishop Ronald Bowlby in Southwark Cathedral.[10] He served his curacy between 1983 and 1987 at All Saints with Holy Trinity in Wandsworth in the Diocese of Southwark. He then moved to Scripture Union to become Inner London Evangelist, holding this post until 1992. Between 1992 and 1994 he was Deputy Head of Mission at Scripture Union. Between 1987 and 1994, he was also a non-stipendiary minister at St Paul's East Ham in the Diocese of Chelmsford.[citation needed]

Butler then moved to the Diocese of Chelmsford. Between 1994 and 1997 he was priest-in-charge of St. Mary's Church, Walthamstow with St Stephen's and St Luke's, becoming team rector of Walthamstow in 1997 until 2004. He was also area dean of Waltham Forest from 2000 to 2004 and was appointed an honorary canon of Byumba in Rwanda in 2001.

Episcopal ministry

Butler was consecrated by the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at St Paul's Cathedral on 24 June 2004[1] and then installed at Winchester Cathedral on 4 July 2004[1] as the Bishop of Southampton. Butler also acts as an "Advocate for Children" amongst the bishops of the Church of England and as chairman of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee.[11]

Butler is known for his annual "prayer-walks" in which he spends a week each year walking round a part of his diocese praying with local people.[12]

In the 2018 Lambeth Awards given by the archbishop of Canterbury, Paul Butler received the Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation for service to the church in his role as lead bishop on safeguarding.[13][14][15][16]

He took part in the 2023 Coronation as one of the two Bishops Assistant to King Charles III, alongside the Right Reverend Dr Michael Beasley, Bishop of Bath and Wells.[17]


Butler is concerned about Universal Credit and fears the two child limit will force children in families with more than two children into relative poverty. In 2018 Butler said, "If people fall out of work for whatever reason they will not get the protection if they've got three children now. The predictions from people like the independent financial services are that the child limit is actually going to have the biggest impact on increasing the number of children living in relative poverty. I would love the government to have the willingness to revisit that whole policy."[18]

Butler is also concerned about monthly payments and about delays in paying benefit, he feels moving people from weekly payments to monthly payments is unrealistic.[18]

Butler has stated that he would not conduct same-sex marriages as he continues to view marriage as a union between a man and a woman.[19]

Personal life and other work

He was a trustee of the Church Mission Society from 2000 to 2010 and its chairman from 2008 to 2010. He regularly visits Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda,[20] and visited Natal, South Africa in January 2011 as part of a diocesan visit.[21]

He has also served the YMCA at Forest (1995–2004), Southampton (2004–09), Nottingham (2010–13), Teesdale (2014-present).[citation needed]

In 2012 he was appointed president of Scripture Union, the charity he had worked for from 1987 to 1994.[22]

He is a patron of the Scargill Movement (which operates Scargill House)[23] as well as the Nottingham-based charity the Ear Foundation.[24]

In March 2015, it was revealed that Butler had, a year previously, reported former Conservative MP Enoch Powell as being involved with a Westminster paedophile ring in the 1980s, after the allegations were passed to him by Dominic Walker, the former bishop of Monmouth.[25]

Bishop Butler, like his predecessors, holds a seat in the House of Lords by virtue of his ecclesiastical office.[26][27]

Safeguarding controversy and the Elliott Review

Butler was the bishop at the centre of the Elliott Review which led to damning headlines across UK media in March 2016.[28][29][30][31][32][33] The review ushered in major change to the church's response to survivors of church sex abuse, and condemned as "reckless" the way in which Butler cut contact with a survivor following advice from insurers to limit liability. The highly critical report concluded there had been a string of "deeply disturbing" failures by senior Church of England figures, including the office of the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. It highlighted the need for all bishops to be urgently retrained.[34][35] The church described the review "embarrassing and uncomfortable".[36] The survivor called Butler's response "inadequate"[37] and in a public letter[38][39] urged him to lead a call for repentance across the House of Bishops.


He has a number of publications, including Reaching Children (1992), Reaching Families (1995) (both Scripture Union); Temptation & Testing (SPCK, 2007) and is a contributor to Through the Eyes of a Child (Church House 2009). His most recent publication is Living Your Confirmation (SPCK, 2012).


  1. ^ a b c "New bishop appointed for islands". 21 April 2004. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Southwark Cathedral - Events & Activities". 18 June 2004. Archived from the original on 18 June 2004. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  3. ^ "About the Bishop of Southampton". 22 July 2011. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  4. ^ "Election of Paul Butler as 74th Bishop of Durham confirmed in service". Northern Echo. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  5. ^ Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham – Downing Street announces that the next Bishop of Durham is to be Paul Butler (Accessed 12 September 2013)
  6. ^ CMS article on appointment to Southwell and Nottingham (Archived) (Announcement: 29 June 2009; archived 24 February 2012; archive accessed 16 December 2015)
  7. ^ Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham Press Release — Drummers and dancers to welcome new Bishop Archived 8 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ BBC News reports on Bishop Paul's appointment
  9. ^ "Petertide ordinations". Church Times. No. 6281. 1 July 1983. p. 4. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 3 May 2017 – via UK Press Online archives.
  10. ^ "Petertide ordinations". Church Times. No. 6334. 6 July 1984. p. 4. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 3 May 2017 – via UK Press Online archives.
  11. ^ Bishop Paul Butler speech to General Synod 2013 as Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee
  12. ^ Bishop Paul Butler Prayer Walk in Southwell Diocese 2013 Archived 6 September 2013 at
  13. ^ "The Archbishop of Canterbury's Awards" (PDF). Lambeth Palace. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Services to the Anglican Communion acknowledged in latest Lambeth Awards". Anglican Communion News Service. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Margaret Holness receives Lambeth award". Church Times. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Lambeth Awards: why is the CofE patting itself on the back over Safeguarding?". Archbishop Cranmer. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Coronation order of service in full". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  18. ^ a b Bishop of Durham 'deeply concerned' over universal credit plan BBC
  19. ^ Does the Church of England still believe gay sex is a sin?, retrieved 6 August 2022
  20. ^ Number 10 – Suffragan See of Southampton (archived)
  21. ^ Bishop Paul Butler Natal Visit – blog [1]
  22. ^ Bishop Paul Butler president of Scripture Union
  23. ^ Scargill Movement Patrons
  24. ^ "The Ear Foundation". Archived from the original on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  25. ^ "Late Tory MP Enoch Powell investigated as alleged member of Westminster paedophile network". The Independent. 29 March 2015. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  26. ^ "The Lord Bishop of Durham". UK Parliament. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Lords Spiritual and Temporal". Parliament of the United Kingdom.
  28. ^ Harriet Sherwood (15 March 2016). "Damning report reveals Church of England failure to act on abuse". The Guardian.
  29. ^ Sean O'Neill (15 March 2016). "Welby's staff ignored abuse to save money". The Times. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016.
  30. ^ Martin Evans (15 March 2016). "Archbishop of Canterbury's office criticised for 'ignoring' abuse complaints". The Telegraph.
  31. ^ Tim Wyatt (18 March 2016). "Abuse case turns spotlight on to flawed C of E safeguarding practices". Church Times.
  32. ^ "Church of England figures ignored sadistic abuse of 15-year-old boy by senior priest for 40 years, report says". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  33. ^ Ruth Gledhill (15 March 2016). "Sex abuse case review highlights damning Church of England failures". Christian Today.
  34. ^ "Senior clergy must be retrained to deal with sex abuse disclosures". The Guardian. 15 May 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  35. ^ "Church of England clergy need 'systematic retraining' on dealing with sex abuse reports". International Business Times. 15 May 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  36. ^ "Church of England Rocked by 'Deeply Disturbing' Sex Abuse Report". The Christian Post. 16 March 2016.
  37. ^ "Bishop of Durham 'needs retraining' after victim claims his response to abuse claim was inadequate". Northern Echo.
  38. ^ "Joe's letter to the House of Bishops of the Church of England". Surviving Church. Stephen Parsons. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  39. ^ "Bishops must repent for inaction on child abuse, says survivor". Church Times. 19 May 2016. Archived from the original on 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
Church of England titles Preceded byJonathan Gledhill Bishop of Southampton 2004–2009 Succeeded byJonathan Frost Preceded byGeorge Cassidy Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham 2010–2014 Succeeded byPaul Williams Preceded byJustin Welby Bishop of Durham 2014–present Incumbent