Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has celebrated his 85th birthday on the day he revealed that he wanted the option of an assisted death.
The veteran anti-apartheid campaigner and former Nobel Peace Prize winner had already ended his opposition to assisted dying two years ago.
On Friday he told the Washington Post he wanted to exercise the right himself, “when my time comes”.
“I have been fortunate to have long spent my time working for dignity for the living. Now, with my life closer to its end than its beginning, I wish to help give people dignity in dying,” he wrote.
Archbishop Tutu performed mass in Cape Town on Friday, and was surprised as the choir sang “Happy Birthday”. He often used the pulpit to criticise white-minority rule which ended in 1994.
The Anglican church of which he’s a member is firmly against assisted dying.
Tutu has been living with prostate cancer for nearly 20 years and was recently hospitalised with an infection.
The former archbishop of Cape Town chaired the commission that investigated atrocities under apartheid and has long campaigned for human rights such as fighting against HIV/Aids, racism, sexism and homophobia.
Earlier this year he blessed his daughter’s marriage with her female partner, even though South African Anglican law does not endorse same-sex marriage.