Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, retired as Archbishop of Westminster, said in a lecture at Leicester's Anglican Cathedral there is a "subtle and silent" process of "dehumanizing" older people via common attitudes -- such as age as an expensive inconvenience and a threat to resources and lifestyles -- the Daily Telegraph reported.
The cardinal said a loss of reverence for humanity meant some of the most vulnerable people in society were routinely viewed as a "problem" or "threat."
"A symptom of this is the violence against the vulnerable elderly now documented in a number of independent studies and reports and the neglect which many have to endure -- you do not care for what you do not cherish," the cardinal said.
"If we load the elderly with fears -- the fear of dementia and Alzheimer's, the fear of growing dependence and the loss of autonomy, the fear of exhausting resources -- you sanction violence against them," he said. "This need not only be physical, it can take other forms: it can be cultural in the way in which we dismiss their views or blame them; it can be political in the ways in which we justify withdrawal of vital services or quietly and privately deny their right to life."