Some places have been reported to be haunted by ghosts. (I am not referring to apparitions of Our Lady or the saints.) Is it possible that spirits of the deceased can haunt places where they once lived or where they died?
— Diane Isabelle Reinke, Silver Spring, Md.
Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
The Church has a theology of angels and demons, and we have irrefutable accounts of apparitions of saints to various individuals. We may be puzzled, then, to discover that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Code of Canon Law and other reliable reference sources are silent on the subject of ghosts and what are commonly called “hauntings.”
Why should spirits not want to revisit places they lived when they inhabited human bodies? The simplest answer is they are far happier, if they have been admitted to heaven and the eternal vision of God. However, if a soul has been condemned to hell, it may, indeed, at the devil’s prompting, haunt a former dwelling, and, as the Prayer to St. Michael observes, prowl about seeking someone to devour.
The Catechism reminds us, “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future…. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone” (No. 2116).
At the same time, we must acknowledge God’s power to reveal his plans however he wishes, including visions and apparitions of saints and dead loved ones.