In a recent editorial in The Washington Post, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu adds physician-assisted suicide to the list of progressive “God-given rights” for which he has spent his life fighting throughout the world.
Praising the “promising developments” in California and Canada, where assisted suicide is now legal, the retired South African archbishop laments that there are “still many thousands of dying people across the world who are denied their right to die with dignity.”
Writing just before his 85th birthday, Tutu says that now more than ever, “I feel compelled to lend my voice to this cause,” adding that he would like the choice of assisted suicide to be left open to him.
People “should have the right to choose how and when they leave Mother Earth,” he declares, adding that “their choices should include a dignified assisted death.”
“I do not wish to be kept alive at all costs. I hope I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life’s journey in the manner of my choice,” he said.
Two years ago, Archbishop Tutu reversed his lifelong opposition to assisted suicide, adding it to his list of progressive causes. The Archbishop has been criticized for his support of abortion and his willingness to lend his face to posters promoting the practice, as well as for his advocacy of gay marriage.
In 1994, just as the Vatican was orchestrating a campaign against the United Nations’ push for global “reproductive rights,” including legal abortion worldwide, Tutu came out publicly in support of the UN platform.
“Planned parenthood is an obligation of those who are Christians,” he told a news conference. “Our church thinks we should use scientific methods that assist in planning of families.”
Tutu has also been a vocal advocate for LGBT rights, and during the United Nation’s launch of its “Free & Equal” campaign in 2013, he said he would rather go to hell than to a “homophobic heaven.”
The Archbishop compared his advocacy for LGBT rights to his battle against apartheid, saying, “I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.”
The Anglican Church has been embroiled in a deep internal battle over the question of homosexual practice. Earlier this year, the Nigerian Anglican primate, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, said that the Anglican communion seems to be tilting toward a non-biblical understanding of homosexuality, marginalizing those with an orthodox, biblical view of human sexuality.
Traditional Anglicans, he said, “are walking into a well-rehearsed scheme to gradually apply persuasion, subtle blackmail, coercion on any group still standing with the Scriptural Provision as we know it, to join the straight jacket of the revisionists and be politically correct.”
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