The cleric doesn’t rule out rational explanations of evil but believes it’s naive to exclude the supernatural dimension
Ireland’s most prominent exorcist has accused the church of abandoning its flock by failing to train priests in the religious practice of demon hunting.
In a special RTE Would You Believe documentary about evil, Fr Pat Collins, who is also a trained psychologist, claims he has experience in dealing with demonic spirits.
In the documentary, the cleric doesn’t rule out human explanations of evil but believes it’s naive to exclude the supernatural dimension.
He said he is appalled by the lack of training for exorcists in today’s Church.
“The Church is rightfully admitting its sinfulness in child sex abuse, that we did not defend children. Now it has all the safeguarding measures and that’s excellent,” he said.
“But it appals 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. Priests – it’s not that they don’t care – but they don’t know enough about it.”
In the second edition of the two-part documentary, Fr Pat said it was the responsibility of the Irish bishops to put this training in place.
“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’.”
He said he is “deeply” bothered by the lack of priests with his training.
“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,” Fr Pat said.
“They have abandoned the sheep.”
The Dublin priest said he believes there is a rising fascination with evil spirits in today’s world.
He added: “There is a morbid interest in evil spirits in society. It’s interesting as people lose faith in God, they are increasing their interest in the devil and it’s purely morbid.
“I’d say to anyone who’s got that morbid interest, ‘If you had to deal with evil as someone have to do, it is horrible, it is pure darkness.’
“’It is the essence of evil because it is totally opposed to God and totally opposed to love.’”
But in his work, Fr Collins said he is not afraid of evil spirits because of his deep faith.
He said: “I know who’s boss. When I say Jesus is Lord, I believe he has power and authority over all these things and the evil spirits, powerful as though be, are on a hiding to nothing when we who are acting in the name of Lord with the power of the Holy Spirit come against them.
“We have authority over them.
“I believe there is nothing to be afraid of but priests and lay people need training in how to go about this and how to distinguish between psychological problems and spiritual problems and how they interconnect at times as they often do.”
The Catholic Communications office said in a statement that the Catholic Church requires that each diocese should have a trained exorcist which is someone who knows how to distinguish the signs of demonic possession from those of mental or physical illness.
“Exorcisms are very rare and this office has not been made aware of any cases of ‘exorcism’ in Ireland in recent years” said the statement.
It added: “From time to time dioceses will get requests for help in this area.
“Dioceses would refer people to one or two priests with training and expertise in this area.
“In most cases it will emerge after several meetings that it may be a medical, psychiatric or psychological problem and they are then referred to medics with expertise in this area.”
- Evil – A Would You Believe? Special will be shown on Sunday, November 26th at 10.35pm