PRIESTS in both the Killaloe and Galway/Kilfenora dioceses have been specially trained to perform exorcisms on possessed parishioners. According to Fr Fiontán Ó Monacháin, secretary to the Archbishop of Tuam, three unnamed Irish priests have received special training in how to combat evil spirits and perform exorcisms.
Father Ó Monacháin said that while exorcisms are not common practice – they do take place and the priests involved are given special training to assist them in battling evil spirits.
He said that three priests – an unnamed priest in the Killaloe Diocese, a Jesuit father based in the Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora Diocese, a priest based in Carlow – have received special exorcism training.
Spokesperson from the Killaloe Diocese, Fr Brendan Quinlivan, told The Clare People yesterday that no priest in the diocese has the specific job of conducting exorcisms but that all priests receive basic training in conducting exorcisms.
Fr Sean McHugh of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, said that he was not aware of any priests in the diocese who had received special training for conducting exorcisms but that the nature of the work meant that the priests identity would be kept secret.
Before an exorcism can take place, the person involved is first assessed to ensure that he or she is suffering from a spiritual possession and not a psychological issue. The local parish priest will then generally attempt to help the effected person, usually by speaking with them or performing a mass in their home. Only when this fails is permission sought from the bishop for an exorcism to take place.
“That [local] priest would have a good idea if it’s a psychiatric or a spiritual issue. If it’s a spiritual problem, the priest would usually say prayers or celebrate Mass in the house, or give a special blessing using holy water,” said Fr Ó Monacháin.
“If that doesn’t work and if they are still suffering, a formal exorcism may be necessary. And if that’s the case there are priests in the country who are trained in that field. There aren’t many. I know of a Jesuit priest in Galway and there is another priest in the Killaloe Diocese and a Franciscan priest from Carlow.”
Fr Quinlivan stressed yesterday that every care is taken to assess the psychological state of the person involved before a exorcism is considered.
“The first consideration is always the psychological condition of the person involved. This is something that we are extremely careful about,” he said.
These revelation about modern day exorcisms came to light in the ‘Díbirt Deamhain’ programme shown on TG4 on Sunday.
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