Irish Exorcist Calls For Backup In Face Of Rising Demand For Exorcisms

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

An Irish priest openly urged local bishops to train more exorcists in response to an exponential increase in “malicious activity of the evil one.”

Father Pat Collins, a Vincentian priest and the most prominent exorcist in Ireland, published an open letter begging bishops to train more exorcists to help manage what Collins says is an exponential rise in demand for exorcisms in Ireland, according to Catholic News Agency (CNA). Collins said that though more and more people are struggling with what they believe to be demonic oppression or possession, he believes modern clergy don’t take it seriously, resulting in people with legitimate need going untreated.

“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,” Collins said, according to CNA. “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.”

Collins’ observation of an exponential increase in demand for exorcisms is corroborated by Theos, a Christian think tank that reported a similar increase in demand in the U.K., U.S. Catholic leaders who reported the same rise in the U.S., and the International Association of Exorcists (IAE), which reported a 2014 global rise in demonic activity as a “pastoral emergency.” (Related: ‘Astonishing Spike In Demand For Exorcisms)

A spokesman for the Irish bishops conference in Maynooth said that each diocese in Ireland has a trained exorcist and that no one had performed an official exorcism in Ireland for several years, according to CNA. The spokesman’s comment, however, does not refute Collins, who claimed that no exorcisms have been performed in part because of a lack of adequately trained clergy and because those in need are not being served.

Collins acknowledged that a person seeking exorcism must first rule out mental illness, as is required by the latest Church-wide rules for performing exorcisms, and that it can take several meetings with an individual to determine whether they are suffering from genuine demonic affliction, or from something else. He clarified that whether or not there has been a rise in genuine cases of demonic possession, there has certainly been a marked rise in requests for the services of exorcists and an observable increase in demonic activity throughout Ireland.

“As this has happened, there has been increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the evil one,” Collins said, according to Catholic Herald. “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.”

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