An Irish priest has accused the Catholic Church of abandoning its flock by failing to offer exorcism training for today's clergy.
Fr. Pat Collins, a trained psychologist, has said that he is appalled by the lack of training for exorcisms in church and has insisted that it was the responsibility of the Irish bishops to put this training in place.
"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, as reported by Dublin Live. "But it appalls me that we have no safeguarding from the evil spirits," he added.
In his recent appearance on a documentary about evil called "Would You Believe," the priest said that he cannot rule out human explanations for evil, but he believes it would be naive to exclude the supernatural dimension.
Collins said he believes there is an increasing fascination with evil spirits in today's society, as more people lose their faith in God. The Dublin priest, however, said that he is not afraid of evil spirits because of his deep faith.
"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," he said.
The cleric said he believes that priests and even lay people need proper training on how to distinguish psychological problems from spiritual problems, and how they "interconnect at times as they often do."
In response to Collins' remarks, the Catholic Communications office issued a statement saying the Catholic Church requires there should be a qualified exorcist for each of the country's 26 dioceses.
The communications office explained that the exorcist should be someone who knows how to distinguish the signs of demonic possession from those of mental or physical illness.
The statement further noted that exorcisms are very rare and that it has not been made aware of any such cases in Ireland in recent years.
The office stated that dioceses get requests for help on exorcisms from time to time, and they would refer people to one or two priests with training and expertise in the area.
In most of the cases, the priests, after conducting several meetings, would find that it may be a medical, psychiatric or psychological problem and the subject would then be referred to medics who are experienced on that field, the office said.