Raise age of altar servers? Good idea?


Does anyone think raising the age from 7 for altar servers would show that the church is taking more steps to stamp out and keep out abuse of minors?
Here in UK we have safeguarding programs, and now most priests are never alone in the sacristy with children.

I know it sounds a bit extreme.


Extreme, maybe. Useful, no. It isn’t the age of a potential victim that is the root cause.


I don’t think that’s the problem here at all.

Of course in the old school days, the age of altar servers was higher. Children had to learn the Latin responses, they also had to make it to 6:30 a.m. weekday masses when they were first starting to serve. In the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s, most kids 12 or 13 were raised more “free style” and could be counted on to make it to church or to deliver newspapers or other tasks without the parents driving them.

It was a different world.


No, because there have been plenty of abuse cases involving minors in their teens. I believe McCarrick was accused of touching a 16-year-old altar server.

Additionally, in many parishes there are already adult altar servers because the church does not have a ready source of children and youth to do it (for example there is no attached school, the parish is in a bad area, the parishioners are older).


I was at a funeral mass in suburban Pittsburgh several months ago, and the altar servers were guys significantly older than me (62).

The priest mentioned that the deceased was charter member when the parish was established in the early 1960’s, and I had the thought that the altar servers were part of the original staff as well.


And he assaulted legal adult seminarians under his charge his well. This is what’s wrong with all of these panacea solutions being offered; they only address individual symptoms of the disease in the priesthood. Take away the access to kids and kids won’t get raped. That’s true, but there were adults molested/assaulted/taken advantage of. Get rid of all the gay priests and males won’t be assaulted. That’s true, but there were also women assaulted (howbeit to a much smaller extend). Get rid of celibacy… there were priests who were having girlfriends or boyfriends on the side and still molesting children as well. There is something far more fundamental going on here and simply looking at the stats of the victims and proceeding from there isn’t going to put even a dent into the problem. The entire culture of the priesthood/hierarchy of the Church needs to change. The crime rings of secrecy and cover up, no matter their choice of sin, need to be identified and dissolved. The rampant alcoholism needs to be addressed. The cliquishness needs to end. No matter how many priests and bishops we lose. So be it.


The point of doing that is not so much to “address symptoms of the disease in the priesthood”, it’s to first and foremost, protect children, who are the most vulnerable as they cannot defend themselves and may not even understand that what is being done to them is wrong.

I do not disagree with you that the culture of the priesthood needs to change, but we also rely to some extent throughout society on adults who are not mentally or physically impaired being able to take action to protect themselves against abuse. For example, recognize that a situation is bad and remove themselves. Kids and to some degree, older minors cannot yet do this.


It’s not all about age. It’s about power. Rape is about power and the fact that the victim has no control over the abuser. Seminarians have been victimized. Adults have been raped.


There is no “set age” for altar servers. A Bishop or Pastor may make guidelines for his parish.


Totally apart from the abuse issue, I believe that the minimum age for altar servers should be in the teens. I cringe when I see young children handling fire (candles, thurible) in a church building that is over 100 years old.



That’s because it is. The vast majority of abuse was directed at older teenagers, not only boys, and stigmatising our holy and devoted priests because of these terrible events is among the worst things we could do.


Right. The problem isn’t that priests had the opportunity to molest kids. It’s that so many had the inclination to do so in the first place, and a culture existed where they felt they could do so with impunity.


Worth considering. The servers need to be made aware of what might happen and what to do about it.


They need to be made aware of this possibility for all adults for whom they come in contact - not just priests, and not just males.


This sort of education was actually part of the Cub Scout and Boy Scout requirements for my son. It was age-appropriate, and it was handled by the parents, who had to sign off that they had covered the information with their son. Although the BSA included scenarios that we were to cover with our son, they also acknowledged that parents should adjust the conversation to the maturity and needs of their own child. These were simple yet good conversations.


Raise the age to 18 years ?

If there are no under aged servers then there can be no abuse of innocent lives.


I hate to point out the obvious, but priests are going to have children in and around their parishes regardless of whether there are altar servers under 18. Many of these parishes have an attached parish school or Sunday school, for example, with the priest helping to prepare the students to receive sacraments.

As we have posted multiple times above - churches now have many new policies and procedures in place to prevent priests from abusing children who come to their church. Not to mention parents who are much more vigilant than in the past and do not just send their kid over to the rectory to spend time with Father whenever he calls.


I think this is what will be happening a lot more. The priest’s role in helping the children prepare to receive sacraments is important.

But parents will tend to be just a whole lot more vigilant and accompany the children to the sessions.


Yes sure, but in most cases children under the age of 18 would not be alone due to safeguarding programs.
I’m thinking about the church all around the world, there are places where children could be very vulnerable, poor areas for example.

I’m just pondering the ideas that the church could do to show it’s shame for what it has allowed and is putting into force protection from now on.


A lot of this is just common sense. Teachers for example have often (more often than priests) sexually abused their students. Does that mean we remove all students from the schools? No.

Does that mean that policies go into place covering things like restrictions on touching students, restrictions on being alone with students, resrictions on interacting with students outside school hours, etc. and that parents are also much more careful about their kids being alone with Teacher? Yes.

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