Possessions by damned souls?


#1

There is a radio interview with Fr. James. J. LeBar availible from the Catholic.com radio archives in which he discusses exorcism. In it he makes two claims (spread over a number of statements), the first being that the devil actually lives in hell, the second being that he sends damned souls (or perhaps they act autonomously) of the deceased to torment and/or possess people. He claims to have exorcised many such spirits. Both of these claims seem very, very, very theologically wrong, however upon research he is by no means the only exorcist to make such claims. What is going on? If this is true, how is it so? If it is not, what does this say of the authenticity of the field of exorcism as a whole?

ADDITIONALLY, I wish to ask about the Catholic teaching concerning Lucifer/Satan/The Devil. Is Satan considered to be the same thing as the Devil, or is it that Satan is the same as Lucifer but the Devil refers to any demon in particular (which is the impression I get). I am also concerend with the fact that the chief demon/devil is called Lucifer. I looked into this before and learned the history of the term Lucifer:

Lucifer is a Latin (I believe) name for Venus, the morning star. Jerome translated morning star in Isaiah 14:12 to Lucifer. In subsequent Enlglish translations (notably KJV) the word Lucifer was kept, because in the Vulgate it was a proper name. This is one arguement KJV only people use: in KJV Isaiah 14:12 says Lucifer, so they equate it with Satan, but in modern translaions, the correct translation is made and it says morning star. Because Christ is called morning star in Revelation, they say that modern translations say Christ=Satan. Of course this is not true, but my concern is with a teaching of the Church which calls Satan Lucifer which is based on a translational/historical fallicy.

I am going to be converting to Catholicism soon, but being a Protestant I obviously spent a LOT of time doing deep biblical research. Obviously a lot of it is not correct in light of the Churches interpretive teachings, which is fine, but this particular idea does not seem to be a matter of interpretation so much as history and translation.

This stuff (mostly the possession stuff) has been bothering me a lot lately, so any help is appreciated. Thanks!


#2

Q: I was told by a priest that the Church no longer believes in diabolical possession–that is, that demons or the devil actually can take possession of someone. He offered as proof that the Church abolished the minor order of exorcist. Is this true?

A: No, it is not true. The Church has not changed its teaching about the devil and his demons and their ability to possess.

While it is true that the Church no longer confers a minor order of “exorcist,” under the revision of the sacrament of orders a bishop has the authority to grant the power to perform exorcisms to certain priests in his diocese.

Canon law states, “No one can legitimately perform exorcisms over the possessed unless he has obtained special permission from the local ordinary [bishop]. Such permission from the local ordinary is to be granted only to a priest endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life” (CIC 1172).

By these restrictions on the power of exorcism the Church seeks to guard against two extreme positions: those who see diabolic possession behind all strange behavior and those who reject even the possibility of diabolic possession at all.

source: catholic.com/thisrock/1995/9511qq.asp

Additional reading:
newadvent.org/cathen/12315a.htm
newadvent.org/cathen/09410a.htm
newadvent.org/cathen/04764a.htm
scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1673.htm


#3

Oh yes I know all that. I am referring very specifically to possession by souls of people who died and went to Hell. It seems so wrong because it would take away God’s sovreignity over souls and give them to Satan, as well as allow damned souls to escape eternal punishment by possessing people instead of going to Hell (among other things). Nevertheless, this is the claim made by exorcists.


#4

[quote=Lazerlike42]Oh yes I know all that. I am referring very specifically to possession by souls of people who died and went to Hell. It seems so wrong because it would take away God’s sovreignity over souls and give them to Satan, as well as allow damned souls to escape eternal punishment by possessing people instead of going to Hell (among other things). Nevertheless, this is the claim made by exorcists.
[/quote]

Typically, I hear of possession by fallen angels or demons. I don’t recall the church teaching specifically on human souls who are separated from God one way or the other regarding possession. Just remember that fallen angels are damned souls, too, but they are not human. Being in a state of Hell might not necessarily preclude also functioning as a possessive agent… in other words, the entity in question would not be any more free of the privation of God.

Perhaps you can pose this damned angelic soul versus damned human soul issue to the ask an apologist forum.


#5

[quote=Lazerlike42]ADDITIONALLY, I wish to ask about the Catholic teaching concerning Lucifer/Satan/The Devil. Is Satan considered to be the same thing as the Devil, or is it that Satan is the same as Lucifer but the Devil refers to any demon in particular (which is the impression I get). I am also concerend with the fact that the chief demon/devil is called Lucifer. I looked into this before and learned the history of the term Lucifer:

Lucifer is a Latin (I believe) name for Venus, the morning star. Jerome translated morning star in Isaiah 14:12 to Lucifer. In subsequent Enlglish translations (notably KJV) the word Lucifer was kept, because in the Vulgate it was a proper name. This is one arguement KJV only people use: in KJV Isaiah 14:12 says Lucifer, so they equate it with Satan, but in modern translaions, the correct translation is made and it says morning star. Because Christ is called morning star in Revelation, they say that modern translations say Christ=Satan. Of course this is not true, but my concern is with a teaching of the Church which calls Satan Lucifer which is based on a translational/historical fallicy.
[/quote]

Peace be with you!

Yes, Satan is THE devil, but the word “devil” can be used to refer to other demons as well. Satan is Lucifer. The name Lucifer means “morning star” (you can find this in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, dating from the time of Augustus) and that is what Lucifer was–light; God’s first creation. And yes, you’re right–it is Latin, but not for Venus–Venus is the Latin name for the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Satan is what Lucifer is now called, after his fall from grace, when he was cast out of heaven. He is no longer the morning star; he is no longer and angel of light.

In Christ,
Rand


#6

[quote=Lazerlike42]Oh yes I know all that. I am referring very specifically to possession by souls of people who died and went to Hell. It seems so wrong because it would take away God’s sovreignity over souls and give them to Satan, as well as allow damned souls to escape eternal punishment by possessing people instead of going to Hell (among other things). Nevertheless, this is the claim made by exorcists.
[/quote]

I concur with your analysis, Laserlike42. I’ve also heard teachings that it’s possible to be possessed by a human spirit as well as an evil spirit and there are different rules to use for exorcism depending on what kind of spirit is involved. I think that’s bogus. I believe, and I think the official Catholic teaching agrees, that possession is only something an evil/demonic spirit can do. The spirits of deceased humans are not wandering around as ghosts or predatory stalkers possessing people.

I suspect that such teachings come from exorcists who’ve been questionning demons during exorcism. Demons are born liars and love to deceive. Demons masquerade as dead humans (ghosts), so why not pretend that there are possessive human spirits?

There are also exorcists who use “clairvoyants” as “sensitives” to assist in their exorcisms. They mistakenly believe that such “sensitives” can help them see into the spirit realm to better understand what is going on, the problem is, these clairvoyants are themselves deceived and are actually operating under the influence of demons themselves, again masquerading as a God-given psychic gift. But being psychic is not a God-given gift. The gifts of the Spirit include the discerning of spirits and prophecy, these are the tools God intends for the church to use in this area. People who are psychic and can read minds and spiritual activity do so by the power of an evil spirit. Anyway, such clairvoyants are the source of many false teachings and may very well be the source of this lie.

Father Amorth, the official Vatican exorcist, has written several books on this subject. I highly recommend reading them. He confirms what I’ve just said.

As for Satan . . . Lucifer was his original name = angel of light. A wonderfully created cherubim who was higher than the other angels. When he rebelled against God and took a third of the angels with him, God judged his rebellion and changed his name to Satan which means “adversary”. The term “devil” is used in context to denote “The Devil” as in Satan himself or “a devil” referring to any of the fallen angels who followed Satan in rebellion and are known as demons or evil spirits.

Scripture says that Satan roams the earth looking whom he can devour, it also says that he accuses the brethren before the throne of God. So I don’t think he dwells in Hell just yet. Peter tells us there are some evill spirits who are chained in Hell right now, but I don’t think Satan will be locked up until the end of the Age.

Hope that helps.

David


#7

There are no possessions by souls of the dead, there are no ghosts, etc. That being said, however, there are many instances where demons impersonate the dead to decieve believers.


#8

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