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Church of England Suggests Personality Tests to Weed Out 'Narcissist' Priests

07-24-2018

The Church of England is cracking down on "narcissism" among clergymen by requiring that they take extensive personality tests and undergo psychological evaluations.

Julian Hubbard, director of the church's Ministry Division, said the tests could also be a "useful tool in helping candidates grow in self-awareness".

The Church of England already uses a variety of assessments to determine whether or not someone can be ordained to preach. Those tests include written exercises, interviews, group discussions, and questionnaires.

However, Hubbard believes it’s time for the church to increase the amount of vetting, especially in light of a recent inquiry into allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergymen.

"This has been given added focus by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and the requirement to provide greater assurance on the effectiveness of the selection process. So we are examining its potential as a means to identify candidates who might pose a risk to others," he said in a statement.

"But this is not only about safeguarding," Hubbard added. "It is vital to use all means available to find people with the right skills and aptitudes for this unique, but very challenging, calling."

According to The Telegraph, one of the biggest red flags is narcissism in the church, especially because clergy are in positions of power.

Let Us Prey: The Plague of Narcissist Pastors and What We Can Do about It, a book by North American researchers R. Glenn Ball and Darrell Puls suggests that more than 30 per cent of ministers in a mainline Protestant church in Canada met the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Church leaders in the U.K. want to make sure narcissism isn't allowed to spread in their country either. Mark Vernon, a psychotherapist and former Church of England priest, said narcissists are attracted to power.

"The church offers a particular route which would appeal to some who like the entitlement - you're called a reverend, you sit in high places, you wear special clothes, you're seen as authoritative, you have captive audiences, you're spiritually elite - whatever it might be, people get drawn to that way of trying to cope with that sense of self-dissatisfaction," he told The Telegraph.

"A proportion of people in leadership positions with narcissistic traits will very malignly take it out on others,” Vernon added. "Certainly someone with a malign type of narcissism would try spiritually to exploit people."

The new policy will be considered by bishops and if approved, will not be implemented until 2020.

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