Theology: The Theological implications Of Ghosts


If it where proven true one day, that there were Ghost hiding in houses huanting the living, or going down memory lane, would there be any theological implications to the Catholic faith?

My dad saw his dead Grandma and my mum saw her dead Grandma; it would be great if it was real, but i have the impression that its not very Christian to believe in Ghosts or any supernatural event that involves polterguiests or huanted houses ( except for demonic possesion of course).


I do not think that there would be any effect on “Catholic theology,” because the Faith already, at least tacitly, assumes that “ghosts” exist. This is based on Jesus’ conversation with the Apostles as reported in Luke’s Gospel:


See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle, and see: for a **spirit **hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and feet. Luke 24:39-40 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition.)

[INDENT]Compare: And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost. Luke 23:46 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition.) [/INDENT]


ιδετε τας χειρας μου και τους ποδας μου οτι εγω ειμι αυτος ψηλαφησατε με και ιδετε οτι **πνευμα **σαρκα και οστεα ουκ εχει καθως εμε θεωρειτε εχοντα και τουτο ειπων εδειξεν αυτοις τας χειρας και τους ποδας]] ΚΑΤΑ ΛΟΥΚΑΝ 24:39-40 (1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament)

[INDENT]Compare: και φωνησας φωνη μεγαλη ο ιησους ειπεν πατερ εις χειρας σου παρατιθεμαι το **πνευμα **μου τουτο δε ειπων εξεπνευσεν ΚΑΤΑ ΛΟΥΚΑΝ 23:46 (1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament) [/INDENT]


videte manus meas et pedes quia ipse ego sum palpate et videte quia **spiritus **carnem et ossa non habet sicut me videtis habere et cum hoc dixisset ostendit eis manus et pedes Lucas 24:39-40 (Biblia Sacra Vulgata)

[INDENT]Compare: et clamans voce magna Iesus ait Pater in manus tuas commendo **spiritum **meum et haec dicens exspiravit Lucas 23:46 (Biblia Sacra Vulgata) [/INDENT]

In each of these languages, one can see that the word for spirit or ghost is the same, both when Jesus “commends [His] spirit” and when He is speaking of the “spirit” or “ghost” which does not have “flesh and bones.”

This suggests strongly that there are ghosts in the sense at least of spirits which are visible to living men, but do not have bodies. Whether these are trickster spirits who appear but never had bodies, or whether they are humans who have lost their bodies is not clear, though the second possibility is at least suggested by the parallels between the two passages.

So, I think that this possibility is already well integrated into Catholic thought and no changes would be demanded on the whole, if this were evinced by some tangible or scientific means.

Pax Christi tecum.

John Hiner



Ive been following these ghost threads and the penny has dropped as it were, what bugs me about ghosts, why they are wrong.

When Jesus appeared, He appeared clearly, He showed them His hands and feet. The room stays the same or at least theres no mention of coldness. And to several or more people at once in different locations. Jesus conversed with them clearly asking and answering questions. And those He spoke to are comforted and joyful.

Way different than ghosts. They dont appear clearly, they seem to have no feet and float, and for seconds before disappearing. The room gets cold. Appearing only to one or two people and usually in the same spot or area. They do not speak clearly if at all, usually moans or cries, and perhaps 1 or 2 words. Certainly no conversation. And those who see, hear them are uncomforted, and fearful or at least not joyful from the experience.

There is a huge difference.


My father likewise says he saw my grandmother, who died early when he was still a child standing right next to his bedside, quietly staring at him.

We should first establish whether indeed those “wraiths” or “ghosts” we see are indeed those of the deceased, vivid dreams, hallucinations. or merely deceptions of the devil. If indeed they were spirits of the deceased, then the question we should ask is: Why are they still here on earth, when they should already either be in heaven, hell or purgatory, which are the soul’s final destinations after death, as the faith teaches us? Can the soul still freely “linger” around as long as they like if they so choose?


This Exactly why i assumed that there would be theological implications on the part of Catholic faith; unless it is a part of purgatory, that Ghosts should roam the planet or homes of their past lives?


John 11:17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

Matthew 14:26
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a **ghost,” **they said, and cried out in fear.

Acts 12:15 (King James Version)
And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

Jewish people in Jesus’ day believed that one’s spirit hung around on earth seeking a chance to re-enter its body which is why Jesus waited to day four to raise Lazarus from the dead. So, if one saw a loved one within a few days of their death they may have seen that person’s spirit or not.


This is what bothers me about ghosts, I dont believe they exist in the form we think they are.

Simply put, satans little helpers; demons, fallen angels, those whom we are to put on our armour of God against


The following suggests that “Catholic theology” includes considerations of the ghost question in some detail:

Reply to Objection 8. The souls of the damned are never outside hell, except by Divine permission, either for the instruction or for the trial of the elect. And wherever they are outside hell they nevertheless always see the fire thereof as prepared for their punishment. Wherefore, since this vision is the immediate cause of their distress, as stated above, wherever they are, they suffer from hell-fire. Even so prisoners, though outside the prison, suffer somewhat from the prison, seeing themselves condemned thereto. Hence just as the glory of the elect is not diminished, neither as to the essential, nor as to the accidental reward, if they happen to be outside the empyrean, in fact this somewhat conduces to their glory, so the punishment of the damned is nowise diminished, if by God’s permission they happen to be outside hell for a time. A gloss on James 3:6, “inflameth the wheel of our nativity,” etc., is in agreement with this, for it is worded thus: “The devil, wherever he is, whether in the air or under the earth, drags with him the torments of his flames.” But the objection argues as though the corporeal fire tortured the spirit immediately in the same way as it torments bodies. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supplementum Tertiæ Partis, Question 70, Art. 3.

Purgatory does not seem to be the only option, at least in St. Thomas’ thinking.

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner


The concept of ghosts roaming around haunting houses seems like a gross superstition. Purgatory is a state of purification, but I don’t think it includes dead people making the lives of the living miserable by opening and closing doors, making noise, etc.

God Bless,


Dear Michael:

Do you have some basis for this thinking? I am interested to hear what you mean by “superstition.” I beleive this was one of the main charges that the early Protestants made against the Church.

Pax Christi tecum.

John Hiner


This has lead me to think up another theory on the basis of your own.

Considering the soul is judged as soon as it leaves the body, we have to say that there is no hanging around earth if the souls destination is purgotory or hell. However, whether it is possible that Ghosts roam around the earth at all, is dependent on what the nature of hell actually is. If we reframe from thinking of hell as a place rather then a “state of being” it is quite possible that Ghosts exist parralel to are world and have the ability to roam around freely through time; It would explain why alot of Ghosts are hostile and possesive of the old houses in which they use to live, because thats all they have; there memories.

I also think it quite possible that somebody who has been given there new heavenly body, can sometimes, with the perrmision of God of course, visit there relitives to give messages. I think its quite possible some times that God allows evil and good spirits to roam earth to testify to the supernatural or maybe test people; just like he allows satan to posses human bodys. If the ghosts still have the freewill that God gave them when they was alive, then its quite possible that Ghosts are real and that there reality does not conflict with church teaching.

What do you think?


Yes. First of all, why would a soul in Purgatory roam around a house breaking things, making noise, and scaring people. I don’t see that as a “purification.” I believe ghosts are one of 4 things: an evil spirit, a hallucination, a hoax, or natural phenomena that has yet to be explained.

God Bless,


Cuase the soul hasn’t been purified yet, and he or she is having a hard time letting go?:whistle:

I get a bit angry, upset and frustrated to, when i go cold turkey!:blush:


That doesn’t sound theologically sound to me. The souls in Purgatory have the love of God and the hope of entering eternal glory. I have never heard the sufferings in Purgatory described as “having a hard time letting go.”

God Bless,


I think you are on to something. Purgatory is essentially a purging. There is still an attachment to sin. Someone who is a practical jokester in his earthly life, may still be one in his purgatorial life, but what saves them is that they have to stop the urge to be a troublemaker.

It could be that the devil has a mechanism of having souls in hell taunt souls in purgatory as well. Wouldn’t the devil want to taunt that person in purgatory? I mean if I were a soul in purgatory for my love of fast food, it would be a pain in the butt to see a demon eating a quarter pounder (or Royale with Cheese) in front of me.

I know that thinking of that may have no purpose, but it does make you want to pray for the souls in purgatory and want to get that indulgence that helps you skip the taunting.


They have a love Of God, but they still have somekind of attachment to a sin that they are being purged of, otherwise they wouldnt be there; they would be in heaven.:thumbsup:


As has been shown by some, the Biblical account of this is somewhat ambivalent; some appearances are joyful, some are demonic (Saul and the witch of Endor). The early Jews believed in both.

Maybe the Bible just doesn’t bother to satisfy our curiosity by mentioning every single possible post-mortem event. “There are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in thy philosophy,” etc.:shrug: For some reason (no, I haven’t seen a ghost), I like the idea of human spiritual entities who are working something out pre-Judgment. However, if I am wrong about this, I will apologize after death to anyone I have to.:slight_smile:


For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[fn3] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph 6:12

What “good” or useful thing comes of meeting ghosts? What comes of meeting Christ? (since it was shown earlier He was a “ghost”. )

Cousin Ed coming back to talk to you serves no purpose other than to haunt you. You become focused on Ed. When one should be focused on Jesus. What was Screwtape trying to plan amoung other things? To take the patients mind OFF Jesus or things of God. Ghosts achieve that.

Whatever, however purgatory works, Cousin Ed is not walking the earth looking where to go, but the ones that do are not Cousin Ed.


I am not convinced that every ghostly appearance has a supernatural explanation. However, I am also not convinced that every supernatural explanation of ghosts is covered by “it was demonic.”

I guess on this point I am agnostic (as Father Brown said in one of the G.K. Chesterton stories).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit