Q. What does the Catholic Church have to say about ghosts?
A. The ghosts that inhabit haunted houses, graveyards, or any other place may indeed be real entities and not always the figment of imagination.
However, the popular idea that they are the spirits of human souls who have died and are trapped here for some reason is not possible. They are much more likely to be demons disguising themselves as the “ghost” or spirit of a human being for the purpose of leading people away from the true faith.
For instance in the book, The Beautiful Side of Evil, Johanna, a young woman gets caught up in a form of New Age religion down in Mexico City, where her father worked for an American company. She is eventually encouraged to ask for Spirit Counselors to aid her in her meditation. They are told they may choose two people. Johanna chose Jesus and Sarah Bernhardt. Through meditation her counselors come to her and they were Jesus and an elderly Sarah. But the next time she does this, after a prayer to God to reveal her counselors, God answers her prayer and she sees instead of Jesus …
“The hair was wild and matted, the forehead was covered with a coarse fur and the eyes were slanted, gleaming and wild…Fresh blood smeared the muzzle and oozed down long white fangs; the droplets spattered down the front of the same tunic” Jesus wore the last time. Then, another time the demonic faces appeared and then the kind and gentle face of Jesus would flash on–then the demonic face would flash on. The same thing happened with Sarah–on and off–on and off.”
Now I realize this is not the same as seeing a ghost. It is just an example of how a demonic entity can deceive by appearance.
2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
In fact, the Church believes that spirits, do exist. There is the visible physical realm all around us but also unseen there is a spiritual realm.
2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal
Ephesians 6:11 Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.
So, yes the Catholic Church absolutely does believe in a spiritual realm. This realm is inhabited by Angels and Demons, Our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And the souls of those who have died are also part of this spiritual realm but not allowed to contact living humans without the express permission of God.
Luke 16:22 The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went to the place of the dead….27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ 29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ 30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”