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Danny Burns wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What does the Church say about:
    • taking children on a ghost tour
    • encouraging children to see ghosts, and
    • possibly calling ghosts out to come forth . . . etc.?
  • Is going to a Williamsburg Ghost Tour appropriate for a Catholic school trip?

We have no control over the materials that will be presented and I am concerned that my daughter will be very disturbed by the tour.

The principal thinks it is all in good fun.

Danny Burns
Silver Spring, Maryland

  { Is going to a Ghost Tour and encouraging ghost-viewing appropriate for a Catholic school trip? }

Bob replied:

Danny,

There is no ruling on such activities per se, so the judgment call is yours to make. While all acts of divination are forbidden, (seances, Ouija boards, tarot cards, horoscopes, etc.), this seems to be in a different category all together. (It seems unlikely to me that they would call on ghosts but the question may be in your mind whether it is right to assert the existence of ghosts at all.)

In any case, there is no abundance of material on ghosts in the Church because it just isn't all worked out. We don't know that much about ghosts. We know there are demons and angels but how other spirits may fit in isn't all that clear.

  • Are they possible? <Sure.>

Even Jesus had to convince his disciples that he was not a ghost or spirit. cf. Luke 24:36-39

36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace to you!". 37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have."

Luke 24:36-39 (RSV)

So, we as Christians should not fear ghosts of the benign variety, for they could be souls that God is in the process of finishing some strange, spiritual business (kind of a stay-after-school Purgatory . . . who knows) but the demonic spirits are certainly pause for concern. That is why we do not practice divination of any sort. It is hard to discern the difference in a safe manner when an evil spirit can appear even as an angel of light.

It would be advisable to talk through these things with your child at some point because your silence will certainly be filled in by what the world thinks on this issue. You don't have to claim to have all the answers, but only what we (the Church) know for sure while having an open mind about the rest.

Another thought . . .

Jesus was visited by the [dead|faithful departed], Moses and Elijah, but clearly his powers of discernment are infallible. Other Saints and visionaries have claimed contact with Saintly souls, not least of which is the Blessed Mother herself. For some reason, we tend to shy away from talk about ghosts because there is a lot of gray area involved, and too much attention to it could potentially lure some curious soul into the occult.

It is my opinion that frank discussion with your child is the best policy. Don't worry too much about these kind of phenomena and tours that call attention to them. If you frame it in the right light, your child will be able to deal with all these things in the future without fear or unhealthy curiosity.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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