While I suspect that many priest sexual abusers and even some bishops may be true, congenital psychopaths with a different brain structure than the average person, most of their failure to feel the pain and damage that abuse was causing victims was brought about by the culture of clerical narcissism, Priests considered themselves other Christs, not just in the sense of ordained ministers of the word and sacraments, but in the sense that priests were the only really important people in the Church.
Narcissism which shades into psychopathy, can be learned, and, I hope, unlearned. Science Daily reports:
The study, presented in Boston at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, analyzes data on empathy among almost 14,000 college students over the last 30 years.
“We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000,” said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research. “College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait.”
Nor is it just college students:
In a related but separate analysis, Konrath found that nationally representative samples of Americans see changes in other people’s kindness and helpfulness over a similar time period.
“Many people see the current group of college students — sometimes called ‘Generation Me’ — as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history,” said Konrath, who is also affiliated with the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry.
“It’s not surprising that this growing emphasis on the self is accompanied by a corresponding devaluation of others,” O’Brien said.
For centuries, in part in response to Protestantism, the Catholic Church developed a mystique of the priesthood that exalted priests above ordinary mortals. The sense of entitlement and self-importance that some priests developed tended to reduce the empathy they had for the sufferings of the mere laity