An Irish priest has called on church leaders to appoint more exorcists to deal with increasing incidents of demonic possessions and other strange phenomena in the country.
In an interview with The Irish Catholic, renowned exorcist Fr. Pat Collins said that people come to him on a daily basis to seek his help in dealing with what they believe to be demonic possession and other evil occurrences.
He said that he is "baffled" that Irish bishops are not making any effort to appoint more priests to investigate claims such as ghostly encounters, people being pulled from their beds, and even full-blown possession.
Collins noted that the demand has only risen "exponentially" in recent years. "What I'm finding out desperately, is people who in their own minds believe â€“ rightly or wrongly â€“ that they're afflicted by an evil spirit," the priest 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.
The priest said that Church leaders are "out of touch with reality" if they think that there is no demand for priests who are well-equipped to conduct exorcism rituals. He said he suspects that clergy in the modern-day church no longer believe that evil spirits exist.
A spokesperson for the Catholic Communications Office at Maynooth has clarified that the Church requires that each diocese should have a qualified exorcist who can distinguish the signs of demonic possession from 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," the spokesperson added.
In an open letter to Church leaders, Collins said that he has observed a growing apostasy in the church and he warned that there has been "increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the evil one."
He went on to note that in 2014, Pope Francis had officially recognized the International Association of Exorcists, which is a group of 250 exorcists spread across 30 countries.
Last year, Collins lamented that the Church seems to have abandoned its flock by not offering exorcism training to priests. He expressed his belief that people are becoming more interested in evil spirits as they lose their faith in God.