The former Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, has been appointed as the Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He succeeds Archbishop David Moxon who retires in June.
Ntahoturi, who served as Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi from 2005 until 2016, has been active in seeking peace in war-torn Burundi and the great Lakes region of Africa and has represented the protestant churches of Burundi during the peace and reconciliation negotiations in Tanzania, which were instrumental in bringing peace to Burundi. He also has extensive ecumenical experience and is Chair of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO).
He said: “I am honoured and delighted to have been appointed: I am looking forward to continuing the work of the dedicated men who have held this post before me. I would like to strengthen those areas, especially in peace building, where the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church can work together for a common witness.”
Born in 1948, Ntahoturi grew up in a small village in southern Burundi, the son of a poor farming family. After training at Bishop Tucker Theological College in Mukono, Uganda, he was ordained in 1973. He came to England to further his theological training at Ridley Hall and St John’s in Cambridge, where he is now an honorary Fellow, and then at Lincoln College, Oxford. After his studies, he returned to Burundi where he joined the civil service, becoming chief of staff to President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza. After the overthrowing of President Bagaza in 1987, in a military coup, he was jailed from 1987 to 1990. In the 1990s he became Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Burundi and was consecrated in 1997.
Ntahouri already speaks French, English, Kirundi and Swahili and is looking forward to learning Italian. He will take over from Archbishop Moxon in September 2017.
The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the appointment: “I am personally delighted that Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi has agreed to take up the joint post of Archbishop’s Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. The appointment of a former Primate to this post for the second time running demonstrates the importance I attach to developing the increasingly close relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Bernard has played an immensely valuable role in the life of the Anglican Communion for many years both as a bishop and more recently as a Primate. He also brings extensive ecumenical experience in Burundi, in the Anglican Communion and in the life of the World Council of Churches. I wish him every blessing in his new role.’
Bishop Stephen Platten, Chair of the Anglican Centre, Rome added: “Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi’s appointment as Director is exciting, building on the work of his eminent predecessors. He brings wide ecumenical and international experience as an Anglican Primate in a predominantly Roman Catholic country. He follows directors from Eurasia, the Americas and Australasia and so broadens the base of the Centre in completing our continental spread. It is excellent that, like his predecessor, he is a former primate and serving archbishop.’