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 are “out of touch with reality” if they think there is no demand for exorcists. He wondered if modern-day clergy still believe in evil spirits, adding: “I suspect they don’t.”
In an open letter to the Irish hierarchy, he also said there was growing apostasy within the Church. “As this has happened, there has been increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the evil one,” he wrote.
“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.”
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 for the Catholic Communications Office at Maynooth said: “Exorcisms are very rare and this office has not been made aware of any cases of ‘exorcism’ in Ireland in recent years.”