Poverty must always be on Church agenda - bishop

PA

The Bishop of Salisbury believes efforts to tackle poverty ought to always be a priority for the Church.

Writing in the Sarum Link newspaper, Bishop Nicholas Holtam said he was concerned about the poor living within his diocese as Britain teeters on the brink of a triple dip recession.

He quoted figures by Church Urban Fund warning that people living in the poorest parts of England are likely to live on average 26 years less than those living in the richest areas.

"Tackling poverty ought always to be on the Church's agenda," he said.

Despite Britain's prosperity, the bishop said wealth was being distributed "increasingly unequally".

"The gap between richest and poorest is greater than it has been for over 30 years," he said.

"During our years of growing prosperity, the vast majority of our increased wealth went to those who were already rich- while the poor actually became poorer. This is neither just nor sustainable."

Bishop Holtam said Christians had a "special responsibility" to care for the poor, especially in times of economic downturn.

"It is not just that Jesus cared for the poor and outcast or that the more you give the more you receive," he said.

"The greater challenge to those of us who are comfortably settled is that Jesus made his home among the poor. That means the poor have something to give to those of us who are relatively wealthy."

The bishop's comments come in the midst of a consultation being carried out across the diocese in which parishes are being asked to feedback about their main areas of engagement in local communities.

The Let Us Talk consultation runs until the end of April.

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