Belfast Telegraph

**Maybe we could get them to exorcise the peace process :p

Exorcism experts urged for Irish dioceses
Priest wants help with 'strange happenings'

By David Quinn
04 February 2005

Every Catholic diocese across the island of Ireland should have a specialist who can assess possible supernatural occurrences such as "poltergeists, hauntings and demonic infestations", according to a priest who is an expert on spiritual issues.

Father Pat Collins made the call in the current issue of the religious periodical, The Furrow.

He also said that a special conference to discuss these issues is needed which would bring together theologians, psychologists, parapsychologists and experienced exorcists which would aim to "explore this aspect of ministry".

Fr Collins, who has written books on spirituality, said he regularly receives calls from people around the country reporting "strange happenings" in their homes.

"They range from footsteps, sounds of crying, smells, objects moving, to electrical appliances going on and off."

He wrote that his usual practice is to refer such people to their local priest for help, but that they would "recount how the priests they had spoken to had either dismissed their stories in a sceptical manner, said Mass or prayers in the house without any discernible effect, admitted that they were not competent to help, or referred them to someone like myself."

Fr Collins said that as a result of this lack of response from most priests, many Catholics are instead turning to "New Age practitioners, spiritualists, psychics and other non-Christian helpers".

He wrote that the Catholic Church needs to find a more systematic way of responding to queries about possible supernatural phenomena and to this end each diocese should appoint a specialist or expert in the area.

"Those who want to deal effectively (with reported supernatural occurrences) need to be au fait with psychology, the paranormal, the notion of the restless dead, and the possibility of infestation by evil.

"Like good doctors, they diagnose what the nature of the problem is, and then try to come up with an appropriate remedy.

"Not all priests would be expected to know about such things, any more than all doctors would be expected to know all about rare diseases.

"Good doctors refer difficult medical cases to specialists.

"Surely priests should be able to refer difficult cases, to do with such things as poltergeists, hauntings, and demonic infestation, to diocesan specialists. Otherwise those who are afflicted may have recourse to New Age practitioners, spiritualists, psychics and other non-Christian helpers," he said.

Fr Collins called for a conference designed to pool knowledge of the area. And he said that many Christians have given up belief in the supernatural because of the influence of secular ways of thinking.

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