An Irish priest has called for backup to deal with the overwhelming number of exorcisms growing throughout the country.
According to Catholic News Agency, "Fr. Pat Collins said he has been overwhelmed with the number of requests for exorcisms from the faithful in Ireland."
Speaking with The Irish Catholic, Collins said the demand for his services has "risen exponentially" in recent years. In response, he has written an open letter to Ireland's bishops to allow for more exorcists.
"There has been increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the evil one," Collins wrote in his letter to the bishops. “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."
Exorcists around the world agree with Collins' assertions. The International Association of Exorcists (IAE) reports the same dramatic increase in demonic activity in recent years, calling it a "pastoral emergency."
In Ireland, a country that has increasingly grown away from its Catholicism in favor of secularism, Collins says the bishops need to wake up to the growing problem or face being "out of touch with reality."
“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.
“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,” he added.
A spokesperson for the bishops' conference at Maynooth told The Irish Catholic that every diocese has one trained exorcist. “Exorcisms are very rare and this office has not been made aware of any cases of ‘exorcism’ in Ireland in recent years,” the spokesperson said.
The rite of exorcism dictates that a priest must first determine whether or not the subject is mentally ill before any ritual can be performed. He begins first as a rigid skeptic, searching for any logical explanations for the erratic behavior before making a final decree on the matter. If the priest determines the person is suffering from mental illness, he will immediately refer them to a qualified psychiatrist.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also emphasizes the difference between possession and mental illness. From paragraph 1673: “Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.”
Priests largely attribute the rise in exorcisms to the upswing in occult activity. For instance, recent studies show that millennials have ditched religion in favor of witchcraft and astrology, both of which are a gateway for demonic entry, according to Catholic doctrine.