Does the Catholic Church Believe in Ghosts?

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.’”

21 Responses

  1. As a interested onlooker, I really think the church has a lot of secrets;
    1: why burie a persons body 8ft underground if the devil comes from below?
    2: why do we cremate people if hell is full of fire and they also used to burn witches at the steak for black magic (devil worship)?
    3: why not tell us about the devil as much as god? Why not let us decide?
    4: prove to us there is a god!
    5: If god is the king,father, power and glory then why doesn’t its workers(pope nd vicors) run the world in the way he wants it to?

    Just a few questions needing answered!

    If they don’t believe in ghosts then how can they say jesus rose after he died and his follower saw his ghost.

    • They didn’t see his ghost. It was him., Jesus Christ, the third person of the trinity. This wasn’t some haunting. There is proof of God. If you truly want to know, you have to take at least, a half hour a day and pray. Do this for seven days. Ask God, I believe, help my unbelief. If you truly want to find the answer, you will do this. God never holds back the truth from someone who asks. We put many obstacles in our life. Find time and pray. If you have a hard time believing in God, what would make you believe in the devil.
      Our bodies don’t come with us when we die, its our souls that pass on. We will get a new body, an everlasting body, and those who denied Jesus will also get an everlasting body, but that body and soul will suffer fire for all eternity. Again, this is your choice, Jesus died for us. We don’t have to choose death. Peace be with you.

    • Theres a lot to say to all of that (such as that the Church does not teach that Satan and hell are LITERALLY underground) but the only one of these many questions I’ll actually address for now is the last one. Jesus actually rose from the dead, he didn’t die and leave a ghost. The apostles did not see his ghost. They saw him. Body and all. Not a ghost. Oh also, the Pope and vicars (etc) don’t run the world the way he want it 1) because not everyone (like you) believes there is a God, and 2) because they too, are sinners.

      Also I would advise against the notion of getting too familiar with Satan. Its very dangerous to take too much of an interest. And you ARE allowed to decide. But heaven help you (no pun intended) if you actually choose the darkness.

  2. In response to the above:

    bodies were being both buried and cremated prior to the Christian era. In a practical sense, we are limited as to what we do to respectfully dispose of the body, while allowing the natural law to take it’s course. In speaking about spiritual realities, we refer to hell as “below” to give a spiritual realm space. It doesn’t put the bodies closer to the devil.
    Cremation is done for many reasons, including financial costs. My father-in-law had to recover bodies during the war, and opted for cremation because he did not want it to go through the natural corruption process that he had witnessed. Fire is understood to be purifying. Unfortunately, when those accused of witchcraft were burnt at the stake, it was seen as a means of purifying them.

    To talk about the devil as much as God would be unbalanced. Why? The devil is a created creature, as much as any of us are. Do any created creatures deserve the stature of the Creator? Why choose a created being, instead of the Source of all creation —God? And we can decide—God gave us the gift of free will, but as for me I will choose the One who is the Source of all.

    Prove that there is not a God. Can you see the wind? No, you only see or feel the effects of the wind. Does the wind exist? Yes. So it is with God. He is known by what He does. The fullest revelation of God is in Jesus Christ, who Christians believe to be fully God and fully man, who lived in Palestine in the 1st century A.D. Not only does the Bible refer to Him, but there is historical evidence from non-believers as well.

    Whatever we understand God to be, He is more than we can know. God’s “workers” are all believers, but they do not make up the population of the world. Moreover, free will is in every human being. They can choose to do good and avoid evil, or they can reject what is good for many reasons. God is not a dictator, so He gave us free will in order that we can choose to come to Him in love and not in fear.

    When Jesus appeared to His followers after the resurrection, He was not a ghost. He was raised body and soul. His followers touched Him and ate with Him. He was not limited by time and space anymore, but His body was real. It is the hope that all believers have that someday, after death, our bodies and souls will reunite in a way that God has planned for eternity.
    In order to better understand what the Catholic Church teaches, it would be better to schedule an appointment and sit down and talk to a priest.

  3. hi. first of all, to prove that there is a God in heaven m just look around, creation tells u so. God put am embro in a womb, every living thing has eyes, heart, lungs, ears (som don’t) . The oceans know where to stop. the bible says that God put a boundry line for it to end. the moon, earth, stars are just suspended in the air. the seasons change at the time they r supposed to. the list can go on and on. please read the bible. buy you a concordance in depth it will help u understand more.

  4. If you let God and Jesus into your life, the Holy Spirit will empower you to no longer be blind and have doubts.

  5. There’s also an interesting encounter after the resurrection where Jesus’ disciples think he is a ghost and Jesus doesn’t rebuke them for believing in ghosts, he just says that he isn’t one himself.

    • Interestingly in another place they ask him if He is the reincarnation of Elisha, and he does not rebuke them for believing in reincarnation, indeed how else is “The Beloved Disciple” to “Stay until He returns”? Something similar might apply to certain souls destined to remain in this place as witnesses.
      As to messages from the dead, as you imply they seem not to be entirely ruled out, just one is warned against deception, generally self-deception. Thus the “conscience” of Martin Luther becomes suspect because it allows so much hate to reside in him (particularly for Jews). “Submission” is not a quality we see much of here. In another place one is advised to heed angels but not to worship them.
      Thus in the spiritual life, especially as one enters the realms of the “unseen” reason and intuition must remain in balance, but “my will” must be suspect. In my experience submission to the divine sacrament is a good disinfectant. Neither the individual priest, nor even the Church in detail needs to be pure for it to be effective. The Mystery is itself purity, just as its original took place in a humble inn, and the Sacrifice took place on a city dump.
      Thus, if one puts aside ego, and submits to that Mystery, one can interact with the unseen world, much as the world of visible men, because even the visible man is accompanied by two less visible “bodies”, as the boy (mind) was accompanied in the book of Tobit by the dog (flesh) and the guardian angel (higher mind or immortal soul), so when I converse with you it is also a meeting of “ghosts”.
      Likewise if one encounters those claiming to be of the spirit world – if you deal with them truthfully, just as you would a visible being, they will be inevitably obliged to reveal their truth, demonic or angelic. The deeper the truth the better.
      Thus also one should deal with saints in prayer. Not by bargaining, but by breaking the bread of truth and the wine of sacrifice, diluted by the water of submission.
      In other words just go about your ordinary journey of life as if it was the sacred pilgrimage of Tobit and the necessary magic of “exorcism”, of “discrimination” between what is good and that which is less good will occur with grace and elegance.
      This is the heart of metaphysics in the light of the Mystery.

  6. Yes I do also believe the dead can come in contact with the living but only with God’s permission other than that anything else might be the evil one himself.

  7. I believe that the group home I work in has some sort of a malevolent spirit in it. I need help because I work overnights and I experience things all night. The only time it stops is when I pray. If anyone knows of a sane person I can talk to about this I would appreciate the help.
    Thank You,

    • Dear Peter,
      Try talking to a faithful priest. Not just any priest b/c many are very skeptical, which they should be. In the meantime, keep praying since you know it works. Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Saints are sane of course.

    • Talk to the owner about having the house blessed by a priest. In fact, it’s good to repeat it every couple of years or so (or as often as needed). In more extreme cases, the diocesan exorcist can be called upon.

  8. Some people don’t believe in them. But I read up on the souls from purgatory. What’s your view on that?

  9. 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.’”

    Isn’t that an amazing statement

  10. In regard to ghosts or spirits:

    I am looking for a priest who can help me. Some years ago whilst meditating on connecting with God in a religious retreat house (the residence for nuns), I felt a physical touch on my shoulder-but no one was there. It shot a burst of adrenalin through me. It was exciting but my response wasn’t comfortable, and I think what I felt was fear—like being caught in the curl of a wave where you have no control and can’t breath. When I think back on it all these years later, I still feel that loss of breath-although to a lesser degree; I believe I was touched by something and I am wondering if there is some explanation other than simply mind over matter-just my imagination??? I do not talk to others about it lest they think I am nuts:), but I would like to talk to a priest or religious expert just to hear their thoughts-I am curious I guess? BTW, I do believe unwaveringly in God, although not necessarily as described or conceived by others.

    • Dear Mike,
      Talking to a very loyal and faithful priest of the Catholic Church would be a very good idea. But make sure you are not going to a lukewarm,dissenting priest they will dismiss you out of hand. However, a priest is not omniscient and won’t be able to tell you for sure what you experienced but because you felt fear, whether it was in a convent or not ( there are a lot of heretical nuns around) it was evil.

      God is love. (I John 4:8)

      Perfect love casts out fear. (I John 4:18)

  11. I want to qualify what I said above. First, it is true that there are heretical nuns, but the convent Mike was at may have been beautiful sisters of Catholic Faith. I realized that I may have cast slander at them. I want to apologize for that.

    Also, as I thought about it later I remembered that everyone who was visited by an angel in the Bible was told not to be afraid. So, fear seems to be a natural reaction to the supernatural. Therefore, Mike is the one who must discern whether this touch was from goodness or not with the help of a priest.

    • How do I find such a priest?

      BTW, I am not 100% sure it was fear—it was an adrenalin rush for sure and left me breathless (like the physical reactions similar to when I have been afraid or startled), but I cannot place my finger on exactly what my emotional reaction was or is. I just want to talk to a smart, wise priest with an open mind and preferably one that has heard a story like this or has read about something like this, someone that can explain it to me, tell me what it means (if anything), and if I am supposed to do anything with it.

      Anyway thanks for your responses, especially your second more-thought out one:) – I do vaguely recall something in some Bible story about an angel saying not to be afraid, but wasn’t the angel there to deliver some kind of message? I am not exactly a Bible scholar!

      Here is the website of the Retreat House:

      I haven’t been there in many years. It shows the picture of the room where I was sitting when it happened. It is the room with the fireplace. I was sitting on the couch, across from the fireplace, under the crucifix, to the right of the entry to the room. It is bright in the picture, I remember it as darker. I loved going to that room to meditate, but at some point whoever was in charge stop allowing people to come, maybe after the fire???

  12. Dear Mike,
    What a lovely retreat house. It looks like it was sold to monks after the fire at some point. You could just make an appt with your local Catholic priest and run it by him. Here is a website where you could ask your question of a priest.

    EWTN Q & A

    In the meantime you can do a little assessment on your own. Did the experience lead you into deeper faith and trust of Our Lord or the opposite? If you want to pursue a deep relationship with God and keep to this plan then that is all that really matters. God Bless you Michael.

    Here is a prayer for you:

    St. Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
    and do thou,
    O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
    by the power of God,
    thrust into hell Satan,
    and all the evil spirits,
    who prowl about the world
    seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

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