Ireland urgently needs more exorcists to deal with rising cases of demonic possession and other evil phenomena, a priest has said.
Fr Pat Collins, a leading exorcist, said he was “baffled” Church leaders were not taking action as more people claim to be victims of demonic activity.
“It’s only in recent years that the demand has risen exponentially,” Fr Collins told the Irish Catholic. “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.
“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.”
Fr Collins said that Church leaders were “out of touch with reality” if they thought there was no demand for exorcists.
In an open letter to the Irish hierarchy, he said growing apostasy within the Church had coincided with “increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the Evil One”.
Fr Collins said that, because he was listed as an exorcist online, he received an “inordinate number of calls from people and emails”.
According to Church guidelines, each diocese should have at least one trained exorcist who can distinguish signs of genuine demonic possession from mental illness.
A spokeswoman from the communications department of the bishops’ conference said: “Exorcisms are very rare and this office has not been made aware of any cases of ‘exorcism’ in Ireland in recent years.”
Accept gay couples or lose funding, Church agency told
The Irish government has threatened to stop funding the bishops’ marriage counselling agency unless it changes its policy to accept gay couples.
Accord, an agency of the Irish bishops’ conference, received £1.4 million in state funding last year and could potentially be forced to close if such funding is withdrawn.
The Times said that Tusla, the government’s child care agency, has said that any agency it funds must make its services “accessible to everyone”. A new agreement has been sent to state-funded counselling services including Accord.
In England and Wales the bishops’ marriage counselling agency, Marriage Care, already offers its service to same-sex couples. (This service is offered as part of its general counselling, which is separate from its Catholic marriage preparation.) The agency received over £850,000 from national government contracts in 2014-5.
The dilemma facing Accord recalls that of Catholic adoption agencies in England and Wales following the 2006 Equality Act. About a dozen agencies were either had to stop placing children with families, which often meant closure, or offer services to gay couples and cut their links to the Church.
Bishop mourns Cranberries singer
Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick has described Dolores O’Riordan, the singer of the Cranberries who died last week aged 46, as a “kind, soft-hearted, talented soul” whose music was strongly influenced by her spirituality.
Bishop Leahy said Limerick “held her very dear in its heart”. O’Riordan, who sang at the Vatican several times, described St John Paul II as a “good man, very kind – I loved him”.
A Requiem Mass was held in County Limerick on Tuesday.