Fr Pat Collins, a priest of the Vincentian order and renowned exorcist, said that specialised groups are required to carry out a so-called “deliverance ministry” as the issue becomes more urgent.
Deliverance ministry is less extreme than an exorcism, which can be carried out by priests only after receiving special permission from a bishop, and instead typically involves a group that performs a ritual to cleanse people of demons and evil spirits.
Fr Collins told The Irish Catholic that the demand for the practice “is much higher than the supply” at the moment despite the fact that several Irish bishops have been “responding quietly but positively” to the matter.
He believes that the reason for the increase in reports of people being tormented by evil spirits lies in the fact that Ireland is losing its Catholic faith.
He said: “As Ireland has secularised, there is a crisis of meaning – people are getting into all kinds of things they wouldn’t have got into before.
“As a result, people are more open to spiritual forces that can be negative.
“I think there is a growing need for deliverance, undoubtedly. This needs to be acknowledged,” he added.
Fr Collins previously called on the Catholic Church to appoint more exorcists after becoming inundated with desperate pleas to rid people of so-called demonic spirits.
“It’s only in recent years that the demand has risen exponentially,” he explained back in 2018.
“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.
“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.”
The exorcist also penned an open letter to the Vatican in which he highlighted the issue.
“As this has happened, there has been increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the evil one,” he said.
“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.”