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John Griffin wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What does Holy Mother Church say about Catholics believing in ghosts?
    (Yes, the kind where folks are visited by "someone" or "something".)


  { What does the Church say about Catholics believing in ghosts; yes, those who visit someone or something? }

Mike replied:

Hi John,

Good to hear from you; I hope Kathy and the family are doing well.

You said:     

  • What does Holy Mother Church say about Catholics believing in ghosts (Yes, the kind where folks are visited by "someone" or "something"?

Assuming you are not referring to ghosts in any sense of the Third Person of the Trinity, I don't think the Church has specifically spoken on this issue.

That said, we are surely free to have a theological opinion on this matter and I think there can be convincing evidence to believe that some family members who have passed on to their Particular Judgment could have been given a chance to visit in some temporary way, their loved ones still pilgrimaging on Earth.

Within official Church documents, yes, the word ghost is used within the Church. As a matter of fact I found six references to the word ghost, or a similar word meaning the same thing, in the Scriptures:

Matthew 14:26
Matthew 27:50

Mark 6:49
Mark 15:37

Luke 24:37
Luke 24:39

There were also two references in the Catechism: CCC 644 and CCC 645.

The appearances of the Risen One.
644 Even when faced with the reality of the Risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. "In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering." (Luke 24:38-41) Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the Risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee "some doubted." (cf. John 20:24-27; Matthew 28:17) Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the Risen Jesus.

The condition of Christ's Risen humanity.

645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the Risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the Risen Body in which he appears to them is the same Body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion. (cf. Luke 24:30, 39-40, 41-43; John 20:20, 27; John 21:9, 13-15) Yet at the same time this authentic, real Body possesses the new properties of a glorious Body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ's humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father's divine realm. (cf. Matthew 28:9, 16-17; Luke 24:15, 36; John 20:14, 17, 19, 26; John 21:4) For this reason too the Risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith. (cf. Mark 16:12; John 20:14-16; John 21:4-7)

My colleagues may have a better answer, but that's the best I can do.

I hope this helps,


Bob replied:

Hey John,

You may want to check out the movie Purgatory, produced by the Marian Helpers, of which Fr. Chris Alar is the provincial. They do answer a lot of questions and give anecdotes related to these kinds of issues, with reference to Saints and mystics like Padre Pio and others.

The bottom line is that ghosts do exist, usually permitted by God to appear for the sake of prayer requests to get out of Purgatory.  They talk a bit about how to make the distinction between legitimate ghosts and demons and so forth.

Also, Fr. Chad Ripperger and I think Fr. Vincent Lampert have done good videos on YouTube related to exorcisms and these kind of phenomena as well.

YouTube Videos:

I have watched so many I can't even tell you which covers what, just do a search and see what you find by them.


Bob K.

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