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Martin Burnham, Ralph L. Piedmont, Ph.D., Teresa A. Wilkins, Ph.D.

Clericalism of Newly Ordained Priests Through the Eyes of Their Parishioners: A Grounded Theory Study

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In the Catholic Church today, newly ordained priests are exhibiting increasing signs of clericalism. Although many have written about the existence of clericalism among newly ordained priests, there is a dearth of empirical literature on the subject. This study serves to fill the gap on clericalism studies in the social science literature. Eighty Roman Catholic seminarians from major U.S. theologates completed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (Raskin & Hall, 1979), the IPIP-50 (Goldberg, 1999), the Numinous Motivation Inventory (Piedmont, 2016), and the Sexual-Spiritual Integration Scale (Wittstock, 2009) to determine the relationship between levels of clericalism and personality, sexual-spiritual integration, and spirituality. This study also compared self-reported levels of narcissism with observer ratings of 40 seminarians. Results showed no significant correlations between levels of spirituality and narcissism, between year of study and narcissism, or between observer and self-reports of narcissism. When controlling for age, year in seminary, and personality, Worthiness scores were able predict a significant amount of variance in Narcissistic Personality Inventory scores: ΔR2 = .09, partial F(1,70) = 9.89, p < .01.

Keywords: Clericalism, narcissism, Roman Catholic seminarians, personality, Big-Five, sexuality.

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