The demand for exorcists “has risen exponentially” in Ireland thanks to a surge in demonic activity, according to exorcist Father Patrick Collins, who has called on the nation’s bishops to train more priests to fight the devil.
In declarations to The Irish Catholic, Fr. Collins said he has been overwhelmed by requests for exorcisms from the faithful in Ireland, and in an open letter, he has begged the Irish bishops to train more priests to deal with the demand.
The renowned exorcist, a Vincentian priest based in Dublin, said that he is inundated almost on a daily basis with desperate people seeking assistance in dealing with assaults from evil spirits.
In the face of the rising tide of demonic activity, Father Collins said he is “baffled” that the Irish bishops are not reacting to the need by appointing more priests as exorcists. Complaints range from claims of ghostly encounters, to people being pulled from their beds, and even “full-blown possession.”
The priest said that the surge in demonic disturbances is a relatively new phenomenon, and “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,” he said.
The key is to have well-trained personnel to deal with the issue and help people get the assistance they need, the priest insisted.
“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 said.
The priest has seen what he calls a growing apostasy within the Church, which he ties to demonic activity. “As this has happened, there has been increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the evil one,” he wrote.
Father Collins’ impression of the crisis is echoed by other exorcists throughout the world, who have witnessed a similar spike in spiritual warfare. The International Association of Exorcists (IAE), a group of 400 Catholic leaders and priests, has reported “a dramatic increase in demonic activity in recent years,” according to the Catholic News Agency.
The situation has become so acute that in 2014 the IAE described the intensity of demonic activity in the world as a “pastoral emergency.”
In Italy, the number of exorcisms has risen in recent years, with some 500,000 Italians requesting an exorcism each year and not nearly enough exorcists to meet the rising demand, according to recent reports.
The archdiocese of Milan in northern Italy has doubled the number of its exorcists, while an exorcism hotline has been launched in Rome, but those in the field claim it isn’t nearly enough.
Rome’s most famous exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, passed away in 2016 and his successor, Father Vincenzo Taraborelli, has said he cannot keep up with the constant requests for liberation from demonic influence. “Padre Vincenzo,” as he is known, handles some 30 “clients” a day, and is calling on the Church to appoint more priests as exorcists to share in the mission of satanic deliverance.
“There are only nine of us left and many more are needed,” he said. “We need other priests like me to meet the needs of so many families.”
In Rome, the Catholic Church has been offering an annual course in exorcism and demonic possession to prepare more priests and laypeople to recognize and combat the devil.
The yearly course titled “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation” has been running for the past 12 years and boasts over a thousand graduates. Students, who include pastoral workers, psychologists, doctors, teachers, lawyers, as well as many priests, are introduced into a biblical understanding of the devil as the “father of lies.” They are also trained to distinguish between true demonic disturbances and problems of a psychological nature.
Teachers of the course have included Vatican officials, bishops, physicians, psychologists and even Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome’s Jewish Community.
Still, according to Father Collins, many Church leaders seem oblivious to the problem of demonic activity and are therefore too slow in addressing the problem.
It’s clear in the Bible that exorcism is central to the public ministry of Jesus, he said, while wondering aloud whether clergy in the modern-day Church still believe in the presence of evil spirits.
“I suspect they don’t,” he said