Father Pat Collins, described as ‘a renowned exorcist’, has accused the Catholic Church of failing to deal adequately with an increase of evil in Ireland.
According to this report, the priest – in an open letter to the church hierarchy – exhorted his country’s bishops to provide more backup in dealing with an “exponential” surge of evil.
He reported seeing a parallel between the increase in evil activity with a growing apostasy within the Church:
There has been increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the Evil One.
He reported being flooded almost daily with desperate people asking for his help in handling what they believe to be demonic possession and other evil activity.
Collins said he was “baffled” the Irish bishops aren’t doing more to designate priests to address the various inquiries, which include people declaring supernatural encounters, being pulled from their beds and also “out-and-out possession”.
A spokesperson for the Irish bishops’ conference confirmed that the Church does require each diocese to have a trained exorcist who knows how to differentiate between demonic possession and mental or physical illness.
The spokesperson also said, however that:
Exorcisms are very rare and this office has not been made aware of any cases of exorcism in Ireland in recent years.
Collins, a trained psychologist, said it was possible that that he’s being sought out by so many people seeking help because he’s well known as an exorcist. But he said there has definitely been a dramatic increase in people experiencing manifestations of evil.
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.
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,” said Father Collins, also a trained psychologist.
Even in cases where demonic possession is not present, he added, people who come to the Church for help are frequently not getting it.
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.
It often takes several meetings with a trained priest to discern what the individual is experiencing and that it does not involve a demonic spirit and instead either a medical, psychiatric or psychological problem, he said.
Collins said it’s clear in the Bible that exorcism is fundamental to the ministry of Jesus, and that he wondered whether clergy in Church today still believe that there are evil spirits, stating:
I suspect they don’t.
In a documentary last November he said he was”bothered” by the failure of the the Church to train exorcists.
He said the Church was right for admitting its sinfulness in not defending children during the sex abuse scandal and for the measures put in place since.
But it appalls me that we have no safeguarding from the evil spirits. I say that in the sense that we don’t train anybody to deal with these cases … it’s not that they don’t care – but they don’t know enough about it.
The buck has to land on the bishop’s desk. Who have you trained in your diocese? I would say to bishops, ‘Woe to you that neglect the spiritual care of the people.’
Collins noted that Pope Francis gave formal recognition to the International Association of Exorcists in 2014, which is a group of some 300 exorcists from 30 different countries.
The IAE has reported a significant increase in demonic activity in recent few years, according to a report from Catholic News Agency.
The National Catholic Register reported last March on an alarming increase in reports of demonic activity – with the number of exorcists outpaced by demand.
The Catholic Church draws clear distinction between demonic activity and psychological issues, stating in its Catechism:
It is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.
The rules of the Catholic rite of exorcism were recently updated to also state that an individual who believes they are possessed must rule out mental issues first before seeking an exorcism.