Archbishop's confession: most abusers not remorseful

In a blunt lecture this week, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin (pictured) made what to my mind is a stunning admission about the sexual abuse crisis in the church.

With perhaps "two exceptions", he has "not encountered a real and unconditional admission of guilt and responsibility on the part of priest offenders" in his diocese, Archbishop Martin told an audience at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

That is, the abusive priests in his diocese, with only a few exceptions, do not seem remorseful.

A few years ago I participated in a panel discussion at a New York City teaching hospital, with several psychologists and psychiatrists, on the abuse crisis.  (I was more or less the token Catholic priest, asked to speak to the crisis not from a psychological but an ecclesial point of view.) 

One psychologist offered a riveting presentation in which he stated that the two most common attributes of an abuser are narcissism and grandiosity. 

The narcissist, as he explained it, does not see the other person's needs as at all important; only he (or she) needs to be gratified, and only his (or her) needs matter. 

The grandiose person, in these cases, is often the "Pied Piper" around whom gather many children and whom parents feel comfortable leaving their child with. 

I remembered the psychologist's observations when I read Archbishop Martin's lecture.  Apparently, the narcissistic traits impinge on remorse as well.

- James Martin

FULL BLOG Diarmuid Martin's Admission: No Remorse on Part of Most Abusers (America "In All Things")

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