Burundi Archbishop is Archbishop of Canterbury's new man in Rome

An African Archbishop is to be the Church of England's new 'ambassador' to Rome.

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, former head of the Anglican Church in Burundi, has been appointed as the representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Vatican and director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Lambeth PalaceArchbishop Bernard Ntahoturi with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury

The move comes at a time of warm relations between the two churches with Pope Francis becoming the first pontiff to visit the Anglican church in Rome, praying side-by-side with an Anglican bishop.

Archbishop Ntahoturi succeeds David Moxon who retires in June.

A former presidential chief of staff to Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, Ntahoturi was imprisoned for three years after President Bagaza was overthrown in a military coup in 1987.

After he was released in 1990 he became Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Burundi from 1992 to 1997 before being consecrated Bishop of Matana Diocese. He went on to become Archbishop Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi in 2005.

Fluent in four languages already, Ntahoturi said he was looking forward to learning Italian.

'I am honoured and delighted to be chosen for this role, and am looking forward to continuing the work of the dedicated men who have held this post before me,' he said. '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 so that the world may believe and God glorified.'

Archbishop Justin Welby said he was 'personally delighted' by the appointment.

'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.'