Byline: STEWART MACLEAN
THE Church is fighting back against Satan - by offering priests lessons in EXORCISM.
The Vatican announced the plans yesterday as it launched a new course in the art of casting out evil spirits.
And the move means the horror of cult film The Exorcist could become a reality for priests around the world.
The 1973 classic movie shocked film fans when it showed two terrified priests battling to rid 12-year-old Regan of the evil spirits trapped inside her.
The scenes of exorcism were judged so scary that the film was banned in many countries, including Ireland, for more than 20 years.
But yesterday Fr Pat Collins, one of just a handful of practising exorcists in Ireland, said there was nothing to be afraid of.
And he welcomed the inclusion of exorcism in the course for trainee priests at the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome.
He said: "There's a shortage of anyone who is officially able to do this but there are people who are troubled or depressed and who need help.
"What's surprising is that in other countries on the continent they have many people registered in this type of work.
"Having the course in Rome is a breakthrough because it means at a university level people will be taught about the psychology of exorcism as well as trained in the skills needed to perform these acts."
Fr Collins, who lectures in spirituality at All Hallows College in Dublin, admitted the refusal of the Church in Ireland to accept exorcism had left his own work in the field open to criticism. …