Many Catholic teachings make reference to spirits, whether that be the holy spirit or the spirit of God, Jesus, or another holy person appearing to humans.
Do Catholics believe in ghosts, or are their discussions of spirits more metaphorical in nature?
There is no specific reference to ghosts in Catholic scripture in terms of whether or not the church believes in the existence of ghosts. There are some references to spirits throughout the Bible, however, making it difficult to understand the church’s stance.
Any activity that could potentially conjure up the dead or communicate with the dead is believed to be of the devil according to the Catholic faith.
While the Catholic church does not take any official stance on the existence of ghosts, they do offer some support for those who believe they may be encountering spirits or something more nefarious.
References To Ghosts In Catholic Scripture
There is no official doctrine in Catholicism that states whether or not the church believes ghosts are real.
There have been various important figures throughout the history of the church that have made statements regarding ghosts, acknowledging that they exist and may potentially have some specific purpose for appearing on earth.
In terms of what the church considers a ghost to be, there is also nothing specific to offer an explanation.
However, there is some discussion within doctrine and from persons within the church that ghosts may be spirits who have not yet been able to reach their final destination, whether it be heaven or hell.
The church also doesn’t state whether or not it would be against the faith to believe in ghosts. Instead, it is just expected that a person of faith doesn’t try to speak with ghosts or seek them out.
How Should Catholics React To Ghosts?
There is no specific criteria mentioned in Catholic scripture for how one should react, as a Catholic, if they believe they have encountered a ghost. Anything available is anecdotal from those within the church.
It is said that prayer is the most effective tool in managing what may be suspected as paranormal activity within a person’s home. There is even a specific prayer, known as the Eternal Rest prayer, that one can say if they sense a ghost is in their home.
If a person feels as though a presence in their home is causing them or their loved ones distress, it’s worth discussing the situation with their priest.
The priest could either come to a person’s home to introduce religious regalia to push the spirits out, or may offer some advice or prayer suggestions.
The Church’s View On Paranormal Interference
The Catholic church takes a pretty clear stance on people participating in any kind of paranormal interference, whether that be investigating, trying to talk to ghosts, or participating in seances.
The church as an entity considers much of this type of activity to try and talk to or conjure up ghosts as fairly dangerous and involves occult and evil practices.
It is believed that conducting any type of occult ritual, trying to investigate haunted locations, inviting spirits into your home, or using something to contact a dead person could all potentially lead to evil presences coming into contact with an individual who performs these acts.
The church acknowledges the existence of the devil in many facets.
While controversial, there is evidence to suggest that the Catholic church acknowledges the existence of demons, given that they have exorcism rites that select church officials are trained in.
The Catholic church has not always been open to making their practices and stances on demonic possession public.
There is some acknowledgment of the spiritual realm, the possibility that ghosts exist, as well as the acknowledgment of evil spirits or demons throughout some parts of Catholic doctrine.
However, the Catholic church has always had a complicated relationship with the paranormal.
It is likely that the church will not update doctrine or change their stance on how to acknowledge the paranormal, though the current pope has discussed the importance of trained exorcists.
What will likely always be true of the church is their insistence that nobody tries to make contact with the spirit world, as it could lead to disastrous consequences.