The Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Richard Clarke has called on people to do all they can to help children in distress, and said that hundreds of thousands of young people were affected.
In his first Presidential speech at the General Synod in Armagh yesterday he said: "According to Barnardo’s, about 100,000 children are living in poverty in Northern Ireland, in places covered by two local councils."
He said later that these were in the Belfast and Derry/Londonderry areas.
The Archbishop also said that in the Irish Republic more than 100,000 children are living in "consistent" poverty. The 2011 figure of 9.3 per cent children in poverty was up from 8.8pc the previous year.
Dr Clarke said: “Consistent poverty means that children are living in households with incomes below 60 per cent of the national median income.
"Consistent poverty can mean going for 24 hours without a substantial meal, or being cold because parents are unable to afford to heat the home."
He added: "We do not need to be told that poverty, whether in Northern Ireland, or in the Republic, damages every aspect of any child’s life, having massive consequences in the short-term and the longer-term on their health, education and the simple chance to make a life for themselves.
"Surely we should not be able to remain detached or indifferent in any part of this island to any child’s suffering, let alone to such a level of suffering that is clearly there all around us."
In a wide-ranging address, the Primate also implicitly drew attention to abortion and "end of life" ethical issues .
He said that people must also ask how they approach, pastorally and medically "from a Christian perspective" those ethical questions to do with when life begins, with the limits of bio-medical experimentation and with human enhancement."
He added: "Every responsible Christian disciple should be ready to confront those who, whether in political life or not, would treat human life not as a gift but as a commodity."
The Archbishop also said that in certain urban and rural parts of the island there were parishes were "creaking" because of the lack of resources.
He suggested that in some places modern flexible models of ministry and local churches could be developed alongside traditional models.