Do Ghosts Really Exist?

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Q: Dear Father Kerper: It seems like there is a lot of evidence that there are ghosts that haunt people’s homes. Do ghosts really exist?

Thanks very much for your question about the reality of ghosts. Some people, of course, would brush it off as a silly thing to ask, but it actually leads us to consider anew two key Christian beliefs: first, that every human person is a communion of body (matter) and soul (spirit); and second, that human life continues forever after bodily death, first as a bodiless soul, and eventually as a resurrected human being with body and soul reunited. To put your question differently: can these bodiless souls – ghosts – appear and intervene in our lives?

We have to clarify the term “ghost.” I am not speaking here about menacing spirits that terrorize movie characters. This English word “ghost” comes from the German word “geist,” which broadly means “spirit,” including non-personal things like the “spirit of the age” and so on. In English, “ghost” specifically means the soul of a dead person that becomes discernible through our eyes, ears, nose (some ghosts smell!) or skin.


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