Last updated on: 8/14/2014 | Author:

Desmond Tutu, ThM Biography

Archbishop Emeritus
Pro to the question "Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?"

“We need to revisit our own South African laws which are not aligned to a constitution that espouses the human right to dignity. On our own soil Craig Schonegevel, after 28 years of struggling with neurofibromatosis, decided his quality of life was too poor. He’d had so many surgical procedures the thought of enduring more was unbearable. He could find no legal assistance to help him die. On the night of 1 September 2009, he swallowed 12 sleeping pills, put two plastic bags over his head tied with elastic bands and was found dead by his parents the next morning. Craig wanted to end his life legally assisted, listening to his favourite music and in the embrace of his beloved parents, Patsy and Neville. Our legal system denied him and his family this dignity…

I revere the sanctity of life – but not at any cost. I confirm I don’t want my life prolonged. I can see I would probably incline towards the quality of life argument, whereas others will be more comfortable with palliative care. Yes, I think a lot of people would be upset if I said I wanted assisted dying. I would say I wouldn’t mind actually.”

Desmond Tutu, “Desmond Tutu: A Dignified Death Is Our Right – I Am in Favour of Assisted Dying,” Guardian, July 12, 2014

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Archbishop Emeritus, 1996-present
  • Recipient, Templeton Prize (worth approximately $1.7 million), 2013
  • Recipient, $1 million award, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Oct. 4, 2012
  • Recipient, Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2009
  • Founding Member and Chair, The Elders, 2007-present
  • Founder, Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, Jan. 2004
  • Visiting Professor, King’s College, 2004
  • Visiting Professor, Episcopal Divinity School at Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2002
  • Visiting Professor, Theology, Emory University, 1998-2000
  • Co-founder, Desmond Tutu Peace Center (DTPC), 1998
  • Former Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 1994-unknown
  • President, All Africa Conference of Churches, 1987-1997
  • Archbishop of Cape Town, Sep. 7, 1986-1996
  • Bishop of Johannesburg, 1985-1986
  • Recipient, Nobel Prize for Peace, 1984
  • ThM (Master of Theology), King’s College, 1966
  • BA, University of South Africa, 1954
  • Teacher’s certificate, Pretoria Bantu Normal College, 1953
  • General Secretary, South African Council of the South African Council of
    Churches, 1978-unknown
  • Bishop, Lesotho, 1976-1978
  • Anglican Dean, St. Mary’s Cathedral of Johannesburg, 1975-1976
  • Associate Director, Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches in Kent, 1972
  • Lecturer, theology, University of Roma at Lesotho, 1970-1972
  • Chaplain, University of Fort Hare
  • Teacher, Federal Theological Seminary at Alice, 1966-unknown
  • Priest, Anglican Church, 1961-1996
  • Teacher, English and history, Munsieville High School, 1954-1957
  • Born on Oct. 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa
  • Married Leah Nomalizo on July 2, 1955. They have four children.
  • Officially retired from public life on Oct. 7, 2010
  • Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation Twitter handle is @DesmondTutuPF
Quoted in:
  1. Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?