Rome Library Empowers Fr. Shanu to Protect the Elderly

Print Print

This priest is using lessons from our Rome bioethics library to end the custom of elder killing in India.

A grandfather walks into a police station in Kerala, India.

He claims that his family is planning to kill him.

It’s an Indian custom. Families sometimes murder their elderly when they are no longer useful. Often victims are forced to drink coconut water until they die of kidney failure.

The police tell him not to worry.

A few weeks later, the same grandfather is in the morgue. Cause of death: kidney failure. There is no investigation.

Bioethics Library Helped Fr. Shanu Make a Plan to End Elder Killing


Fr. Shanu now has the tools he needs to protect the elderly in his diocese.

Fr. Shanu from Kerala knows all about the evil custom that is snuffing out lives in his community. The practice of ‘thalaikoothal’, or elder killing, is illegal. But it still happens in some parts of southern India, especially among poor families.

He came to Rome to plan a strategy for leading his community to stop the practice of elder killing. To complete this task, he needed some help.

Through HLI Rome, our donors support one of the most extensive bioethics libraries in the world. Thanks to them, priests like Fr. Shanu can find texts that are often not available in university libraries.

At the library, Fr. Shanu did extensive research on promoting palliative care, or “comfort-care.” This type of care is in line with Church teaching and respects human dignity.

Our donors provided all the latest scientific information on comfort-care for the elderly and sick. And they backed it up with ethical and pastoral texts. This helped Fr. Shanu find the best way to apply the science in his region.

Bringing Pro-Life Teaching Where it is Needed Most

Most Indians love and respect their elderly relatives and are happy to care for them.

But sadly, this country is a prime target of population control groups. Indians are consistently taught that excess people are a dead weight to society.

This pushes them toward many evils, such as abortion and contraception, as well as euthanasia.

With this mindset, some families don’t see the point of supporting an elderly parent who can’t work. And if the parent is in pain, their children might think ending their life is the right thing to do.

This is a big challenge for a priest trying to protect the most vulnerable.

Seminarians Ready to Spread this Solution all over India

Thanks to our Rome library, Fr. Shanu is returning to India with a plan to suit this problem. He has Church teaching on the value of human life in one hand, and practical alternatives to euthanasia in the other.

And the best part?

Fr. Shanu teaches at a major seminary.

He’ll still be able to apply what he learned in his parish. But it won’t stop there. Fr. Shanu’s students will take this knowledge and use it to protect the elderly all over India.

Thank you, HLI donors, for helping Fr. Shanu save lives!

Through the Rome library, you empower leaders to change the culture in India and around the world. You are giving the most vulnerable people a chance to live and be loved.

Human Life International logo

HLI staff writers bring you stories from the mission field and the latest information on life and family issues. All HLI articles are true to Catholic teaching.

Did you find this useful?