A leading Irish exorcist is calling for new teams to be trained in the rite to counter what he sees as a wave of evil enveloping the Emerald Isle.
In an interview with The Irish Catholic last week, Fr. Pat Collins rallied the country’s hierarchy to pick up arms for spiritual battle, saying more and more people are contacting him for help with what they believe to be demonic possession and other diabolical activity.
Demand for the rite of exorcism “has risen exponentially,” he observed, expressing bafflement at the bishops’ failure to respond.
Though each of Ireland’s 26 dioceses is obliged by Canon Law to have an exorcist, not all do.
A spokesperson for the Catholic Communications Office at Maynooth told The Irish Catholic, “Exorcisms are very rare, and this office has not been made aware of any cases of ‘exorcism’ in Ireland in recent years.”
Though most cases are eventually ruled to be medical, psychiatric or psychological in origin, Fr. Collins said any characterization by the hierarchy that there is no demand for the rite is “out of touch with reality.”
In an open letter to Ireland’s bishops, Fr. Collins warned of an observable, growing apostasy inside the Church, writing this is accompanied by “growing evidence of the malignant activity of the evil one.”
When asked whether most Irish clergy today believe in demonic spirits and other diabolical manifestations, the Dublin priest replied, “I suspect they don’t.”
In a November 2017 RTÉ News and Current Affairs documentary, Fr. Collins accused the country’s prelates of abandoning their sheep.
“How many bishops in accordance with Canon 1172 have trained anybody or appointed anybody in the diocese of Ireland to help our poor unfortunate people who are oppressed and sometimes possessed by these awful spirits?” he asked. “Who have you trained in your diocese?”
“The buck has to land on the bishop’s desk,” declared the Dublin exorcist.
Others — clergy and laity — share Fr. Collins’s concerns. The shortfall in exorcists is provoking concern among committed Catholics throughout the Church.
In June 2017, Fr. Francesco Bamonte, chairman of the International Association of Exorcists (a body of 250 priests, spread across 30 countries, schooled in the rite) sounded the alarm over deficiencies in the training of seminarians. Speaking before the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation of the Clergy in Rome, he warned of grave consequences if clergy are not trained to recognize and counter diabolical manifestations.
Catholic seminaries and theological facilities are paying “scant attention” to “the real existence, substance and nature of the demonic world,” Fr. Bamonte noted, and some professors even deny its very existence.
That such men are given charge over the spiritual, pastoral and theological formation of seminarians, he said, is “extremely worrying.”
Father Collins concurs, telling RTÉ in November, “It appalls me that we have no safeguarding from the evil spirits.”