Ghosts and Demons

What is the Catholic opinion on ghosts and demons? I have heard many different answers and want to see what you guys can come up with.

Ghosts run counter intuitive to an ordered afterlife. If you accept God and angels are real then you have to accept that a grim reaper is running waste management.

As for demons the church accepts that sometimes demons get permission to inhabit a living body and cause a ruckus.

The rest of the time they run interference for the truth.

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I have heard that ghosts are people in purgatory trying to get prayers from the living. What do you think about that?

Short answer: No
Long answer: There is a book called purgatory that goes over people who visit the living to relay important news but its not like old man Cathcart is writhing in purgatory and still trying to scare kids off his lawn.

Saul and the Medium at Endor

Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”

“There is one in Endor,” they said.

So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”

But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”

Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.”

“What does he look like?” he asked.

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

1 Samuel 28

Demons are obviously real because the church has dozens of prayers that reference asking for protection from them. I think most people are the cause of their own troubles though, not because a demon is tripping them up.

Ghosts I’m not sure on. Christ referenced ghosts when he spoke to St. Thomas, so I’m up in the air on what he meant.
Luke 24: 39
Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

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This is what Jimmy Akin teaches , see his podcast episode on ghosts >


Ghosts, in my opinion, are souls of those in Purgatory who are in need of prayers.

Demons are real and are always seeking to damn a soul to Hell with them.


Either Demons or Holy Souls in need of prayer.

The main difference is that the Devil will usually try to have a conversation with you and keep the relationship going whereas a Purgatorial Ghost may have some words but generally they just simply appear there’s no vocal interaction or if there is it’s very short and to the point.

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I can tell you from experience that demons can mascaraed as innocent playful ghosts. This is what drew my wife’s attention, because she had a secular understanding and did not know the dangers of what she was messing with. The little things that occurred in our home kept her curious and feeling like she needed to help someone get to the “other side.” That collimated into a full blown demonic attack one night that could have cost her life. Unless you have been through it you can not begin to comprehend how horrific and terrorizing such an attack is. The evil, the hatred, the fear, being taunted, being muted, being unable to breathe, the darkness, the shape changing shadow form, you only think you know what fear is until you go through what we did, not once but twice in one night.

I very much dislike the word ghost because it minimizes real and authentic demons, REAL angels that rejected God and seek not only to mislead people but to also possess or do physical and mental harm to their victims. These are the angels that literally hate Jesus and His mother. Hollywood makes ghosts seem cool and interesting, they will not tell you all those stories about demons in Scripture - THEY ARE TRUE!

There is no way for a human to know the difference between spiritual entities. It is best and most wise to treat ALL as if they are the most dangerous, that of a demon.


That is what I knew as well. We can’t possibly know if a ghost that presents itself as that of a relative we love is actually that relative and so on. Demons are powerful enough to take any form and shape especially since what we see is an illusion, not reality, since the Enemy is the king of all lies.


Thank you for the response. This is very helpful. God bless you!

Some Catholics believe that ghosts are people who are in need of prayer (in purgatory) that God allows to ask for prayers. I don’t know if I buy it as I don’t think there’s an official church teaching on the matter. But I must admit I’ve heard some convincing anecdotal evidence from people I generally trust.

However demons are very real. The church has exorcists for a reason. Demons are real and they really do have power of the physical world when we let them into our lives.

Ghosts are souls trapped in purgatory. They need our prayers.

Although, angels and saints appear to us and they could be mistaken as ghosts.

Your welcome, God bless you too.

I think ghosts are actually demons. Demons can take on different many different forms.


If we accept the common definition of a ghost as being someone who has died appearing on Earth (in some form), it is my understanding the Church takes no definitive answer yes or no.
However, we do know it is possible, as Moses and Elijah appeared on earth and 3 apostles witnessed it.
Beyond that, I believe it does happen. One explanation that has been given is that they are souls in purgatory. I will ad that they could also be saints whom God allows to appear for some particular reason.
Note: I certainly believe in ghosts, if someone can demonstrate to me that the Church teaches otherwise, I will change my belief.

Ghosts and demons are two different things, by definition. Ghosts are souls of the deceased, demons are fallen angels. Could a demon appear to us as a ghost to deceive us? I am not sure of that, but am rather skeptical.

I’ve read the Devil can release some damned souls from hell to roam the earth for whatever reason.And there are stories of souls from purgatory appearing to saints asking for prayers.Maybe there are some souls who can’t let go of their earthly lives,so God just lets them wander the earth until they can.

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