Priest pleads with bishop for more exorcists in Ireland
Strange occurrences and even demonic possession have caused a leading Irish expert to call on Church leaders to appoint a team of exorcists to cope with what he sees as a rising tide of evil in the country.
While for many exorcisms of those possessed by demons are the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters, renowned exorcist Fr Pat Collins told The Irish Catholic that he is inundated almost on a daily basis with desperate people seeking his help to deal with what they believe to be demonic possession and other evil goings on.
The priest said he is “baffled” that Irish bishops are not taking more action to appoint priests to deal with everything from people claiming ghostly encounters, being pulled from their beds, and even full-blown possession.
According to Fr Collins, “it’s only in recent years that the demand has risen exponentially”.
“What I’m finding out desperately, is people who in their own minds believe – rightly or wrongly – that they’re afflicted by an evil spirit,” he said.
“I think in many cases they wrongly think it, but when they turn to the Church, the Church doesn’t know what to do with them and they refer them on either to a psychologist or to somebody that they’ve heard of that is interested in this form of ministry, and they do fall between the cracks and often are not helped,” he said.
Fr Collins said that for Church leaders to think there is no demand for priests well-versed in the now seemingly arcane ritual of exorcism is being “out of touch with reality”.
He added that it’s clear in the Bible that exorcism is central in the ministry of Jesus, and that he wondered if clergy in the modern-day Church still believe that there are evil spirits adding “I suspect they don’t”.
A spokesperson for the Catholic Communications Office at Maynooth told this paper that the Church does require that each diocese should have a trained exorcist who knows how to distinguish the signs of demonic possession from those of mental or physical illness.
She added: “Exorcisms are very rare and this office has not been made aware of any cases of ‘exorcism’ in Ireland in recent years”.
He said that from time to time the Church does get requests for for help and refers people to priests with appropriate training and expertise.
“In most cases it will emerge after several meetings that it may be a medical, psychiatric or psychological problem and the person would then be referred to the relevant specialists,” he said.
Pope Francis has regularly reminded followers that Satan’s presence is real, that his mission it to turn the faithful away from Christ through temptation, saying that this even infects communities. It has been a theme in many of the homilies throughout his Papacy.
Fr Collins has written an open letter to the hierarchy in which he says he has observed a growing apostasy within the Church. He writes: “As this has happened, there has been increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the evil one.
“I can’t judge from my own subjective experience because people see on the internet that I’m supposed to be an exorcist so I get an inordinate number of calls from people, and emails, all I can say is I have that reputation, but it’s only in recent years that the demand has risen exponentially,” he said.
Fr Collins notes that Pope Francis gave formal recognition to the International Association of Exorcists in 2014, which is a group of 250 exorcists spread across 30 countries.