By Conor Kane
A Catholic bishop has said he is establishing a "delivery ministry" group of people who will be attempting to rid people of the devil and warned against the possibility of users of Reiki and other healing methods being exposed to evil spirits.
Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan said today that he has got "several requests" from people to help deal with evil forces and that one priest in his diocese is about to start training in the practice of exorcism.
Bishop Cullinan said he was told by the brother of a Reiki master that the man was "working on somebody one day when he actually says he saw a vision of Satan" and was "scared out of his wits, dropped the Reiki and went back to the church".
Speaking to Eamon Keane on WLR FM's Deise Today programme, the bishop said: "You're channelling energies, in inverted commas, you could well be opening yourself up to letting a spirit in which is not good and is dangerous stuff, actually."
He made his comments when asked if he agreed with Pope Francis's view that child abuse is caused by Satan, and said that he "absolutely" agreed. "Since day one, Pope Francis has been talking about the action of Satan. As Bishop, I have got several requests from people, one lady for example who is involved in counselling, I don't know if she's Catholic or what, but she's coming across things in people which she cannot deal with and she knows that it's beyond psychological."
He said he has received "about nine requests" in the last couple of years from people in relation to "what they believe to be evil forces".
"I am just setting up a group, actually, of people who want to be part of delivery ministry, if you like. This is something that has to be done in secret because you don't let these people's names out and they are going to houses where people maybe have been involved in some kind of new age thing or some kind of séance or that kind of thing and, unfortunately, they've opened up a door to an evil force, Satan. Does Satan want to destroy the human person? Of course he does. Not only the church, but anywhere and everywhere that he will get in, he has come to destroy."
Anyone involved in "delivery ministry," or exorcism, has to "pray for the healing of the church" and recite - with the permission of the bishop -the prayers of exorcism, he said.
"It's a tricky area, there's no doubt about that, it must never be done on one's own and there always has to be prayer behind it. I remember one particular priest, a friend of mine who I knew who was involved in one particular case, and it was a girl, a professional girl, young, who came with her mother, and there were four men, kind of rugby types, to hold her down in the chair, such strength she had.
"The priest had warned the four guys beforehand, just make sure you've gone to confession and one guy didn't go to confession, one of the four, and the girl with a voice that wasn't hers, it was a male voice coming out of her, actually called out the sins of your man, the guy who hadn't gone to confession. That's kind of scary stuff.
I've never seen an exorcism myself but I have certainly felt the presence of evil.
The use of "delivery ministry" in his diocese is "a fledgling thing," Bishop Cullinan said. "We're finding our feet in this area. It is something there are more and more requests coming in. I would hope that people will not get scared and I'm sorry if I'm scaring anybody. But let's pray and let's just realise, if you read Scriptures you will see that Christ was over and over again confronted with Satan, over and over again with the enemy."
Asked by the presenter if he had ever been in the presence of evil, he said he had met two people who had frightened him, with "a coldness and a venom that was there".
He cautioned people to be careful about where they go for healing and said "I do, I do" when asked if he thought there were dangers in getting involved in Reiki or new age healing.
"Because if you're opening yourself up to a spirit and someone is channelling a spirit, they could be challenging the wrong spirit. I have met, personally, people who are so oppressed with something which is other than psychological. And I would never, by the way, counsel a person not to continue to go to their doctor or counsellor or psychiatrist - absolutely - but sometimes there are things which are paranormal, spiritual," he said.
"I know one particular girl who worked with a guy who was into Satanism and she came away very badly affected and still suffers because of that. Very difficult area. I sent her to somebody and I hope she found healing since. It's scary stuff, but the Lord is master and he is the one we trust."