Malignant narcissists are a lot like sociopaths. But there's one critical difference. A sociopath can operate without giving a thought as to how others view him. He doesn't care.
But a covert narcissist is very invested in his social standing. Being an active member of a parish offers the perfect cover, as people seeing him at prayer will assume he's a nice person. Since narcissists also like to run things, it's only natural that they gravitate toward church, where they can find ample opportunities to head steering committees and to assume various other leadership roles. (Remember the Pharisees?)
This explains why you'll find so many covert narcissists cloaked in a veil of sanctity. Church, unfortunately, is not the place to let your guard down. Many potential problems can be avoided by staying in the pews and praying, instead of getting involved with various projects. This is what often leads to trouble.
That's because a narcissist in power doesn't like to yield anything. He or she is threatened by new talent and new ideas.
Flickr photo top by ell brown