Enquiries and requests for help relating to paranormal matters and deliverance ministry are sometimes directed to the Church and its clergy. These can usually be dealt with by parochial clergy with pastoral care, the sacraments and appropriate prayer.
The House of Bishop's guidelines (1975) offer guidance relating to prayer for deliverance for a person believed in some way to be 'possessed' by evil. The guidelines state that such ministry should:
- be in collaboration with the resources of medicine
- be in the context of prayer and sacrament
- have the minimum of publicity
- be done by experienced persons authorised by the diocesan Bishop
- with follow up of continuing pastoral care
The most recent advice is that these guidelines are not fully comprehensive of the breadth of ministry relating to unexplained noises, poltergeist activity, strange happenings, or apparitions. Neither need they restrict us in ministering to people who feel oppressed, as distinct from possessed, by evil. Clergy are free to pray the peace of Christ into places and into people's lives, and to share appropriate pastoral and sacramental ministry with our parishioners, but must refer to the Adviser when encountering requests and suggestions relating to ‘casting evil spirits' out of people.
Clergy wishing to learn more about deliverance ministry can refer to Chapter 9 of the report "A Time to Heal" (House of Bishops, Church House Publishing, 2000), and "Deliverance", edited by Michael Perry, (SPCK, 1996).
Should clergy need assistance in responding to enquiries relating to deliverance or paranormal ministry, they can contact Reception at Diocesan House (01483 790300) for referral to the Adviser for paranormal and deliverance matters.
The Adviser will be glad to talk through each case and suggest appropriate forms of ministry and prayer support. Any pastoral follow-up will need to be undertaken by local parochial clergy.
Within this diocese a small team works alongside the adviser in providing advice to parish clergy. Parish clergy are responsible for their parishioners and will liaise with the Adviser as necessary, so that parishioners will not be in direct contact with the Adviser.
Persons making enquiries to Diocesan House will be referred to their own parish priest, whose name and telephone number will be given to them.