THE Archbishop of Canterbury has appointed the former Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi, the Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, as the next director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. Archbishop Ntahoturi will be the first African to take up the post, in September, after the current director, Archbishop David Moxon, retires in June.
“I look forward to building on the contribution of my predecessors,” Archbishop Ntahoturi said on Monday. “But, coming from an area of conflict in Africa, my greater interest will be to understand the ministry of Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby, knowing that reconciliation is at the heart of their ministry.”
The director is responsible for liaison between Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby, and working with the Anglican Communion and Vatican bodies, on joint projects.
Archbishop Ntahoturi was born in Matana, Burundi, in 1948. He studied at the Bishop Tucker Theological College in Uganda (now Uganda Christian University), from 1968 until his ordination in 1973.
He went on to read theology at Ridley Hall, and St John’s, Cambridge, in 1976, where he is now an honorary Fellow, and later at Lincoln College, Oxford. He returned to Burundi in 1979, becoming chief of staff to President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza. After the overthrow of President Bagaza in a military coup in 1987, Archbishop Ntahoturi was imprisoned for three years.
He served as the provincial secretary of the Episcopal Church of Burundi from 1992 until his consecration as Bishop of the diocese of Matana, in 1997. He was elected the third Primate of Burundi in 2005, where he served until last year. He also chaired the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, and was a member of the Anglican Consultative Council Standing Committee.
Archbishop Welby said that appointing another former Primate to the Anglican Centre was a demonstration of his commitment to the “increasingly close” relationship between the Anglican Communion and the RC Church.
Archbishop Ntahouri, who is fluent in English, French, Kirundi, and Swahili, said that a new language, country, and culture would be a “personal challenge”. The chairman of the Anglican Centre, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, said that Archbishop Ntahouri would bring “wide ecumenical and international experience as an Anglican Primate in a predominantly Roman Catholic country”.