Exorcist Tells What CNN Got Wrong in Story About Ghostly Encounters

The news network’s secular take on contact beyond the grave is sorely lacking

Benjamin West, “Saul and the Witch of Endor” (1777)
Benjamin West, “Saul and the Witch of Endor” (1777) (photo: Public Domain / Public Domain)

Can loved ones contact us from beyond the grave? CNN recently considered the possibility focusing on communication from people who died from COVID-19. A secular look at the supernatural, however, leaves gaping holes where religion belongs. In “They Lost Their Loved Ones to Covid; Then Again, They Heard From Them,” CNN reported on experiences referred to in the psychological field as ADC’s or “after-death communications.” The events ranged from relatives appearing in vivid dreams or a sudden whiff of fragrance worn by a departed loved one, to more personal encounters such as a touch, a voice or seeing a human form.

The article stated that a large number of ADC reports occur following massive tragedies:

“After the 9/11 terrorist attacks came a wave of people reporting sightings of and even conversations with those who had been snatched from their lives. When a tsunami struck Japan in 2011, killing at least 20,000 people, so many inhabitants of Ishinomaki reported seeing their loved ones appear that a book and a documentary were made about this city of wandering ghosts.“

ADC’s, the article surmised, might happen so deceased relatives can assure loved ones they will be reunited, or that they will be there to meet and greet them in the end or even assist them in life and death. It also stated, very matter-of-factly, that many people will resort to occult practices such as Ouija boards and mediums in attempts to contact the dead. 


Missing Pieces

CNN’s attempt to tackle the topic of life after life was sorely lacking. Not once was God — creator of all souls — mentioned. Neither did the word soul appear anywhere. Nor was there the slightest warning to stay away from the occult.

Scripture forbids it and sometimes a demon in disguise is the one responding:

“Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortuneteller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead. Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the Lord…” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

St. Paul condemned Elymas, the magician, calling him “son of Satan and enemy of all that is right” (Acts 13:8). 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2116) is clear in this regard:

“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. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”


Catholic Perspective

Catholics believe that we can pray to God for our dead and they can pray for us, and at times, God allows us consolation from our loved ones. In such instances, God orchestrates it, not us. An example is a simple story that Dr. Thomas “Tim” Armstrong shared in Amazing Grace for Fathers. He explained that after his cigar-smoking, Bible-loving, father-in-law, “J.D." died unexpectedly in his favorite easy chair, he was severely missed. 

Tim’s wife Judy especially missed him. “Several weeks after his death, our son Thomas, then five-years-old, proclaimed matter-of-factly that he knew ‘Pawpaw’ was okay because he had seen him in the corner of the room the night before. But knowing that Thomas really wanted to see and believe that J.D. was safe in heaven, I just was not convinced his claim was real.”

While returning home from their sixth grader’s basketball game one evening with their four children in their van, Judy and Tim talked about a problem at her work. “We were stopped at a red light when suddenly, the smell hit me — cigar smoke. Not just any cigar, but the same exact smell that came from the brand J.D. smoked! I looked at Judy, and her eyes were as large as saucers, and her mouth open. We were both speechless. I looked at all of the cars around me and there was no evidence of any smoke or cigars anywhere. There were no embers on the ground and nothing in the air, no open windows … nothing. Suddenly the quiet mini-van came alive with the chatter of my children's voices exclaiming ‘Pawpaw’ in unison. For the first time since J.D.'s death, Judy and I experienced a warm, relaxing peace that we had been in such need of. It was an affirmation that God was there, and J.D. was too. It was a God moment, one of those events when the only explanation is God’s amazing grace.”


They Could Be in Purgatory

Two more words never mentioned in the CNN article were prayer and purgatory. What if the loved ones are in purgatory and need prayers? St. Pio of Pietrelcina often reported that souls in purgatory would appear and ask him for prayers. Catholics pray for our dead in the event they are in purgatory, being purged of their sins since nothing unclean can enter heaven (Revelation 21:27). 

In the article, “Two Exorcists Weigh In On Ghosts and Haunted Houses,” Father Vincent Lampert, an exorcist for the diocese of Indianapolis, told of a woman who feared her deceased ex-husband was haunting her. She lived alone but would find furniture moved around. It was especially unnerving that an old wedding picture kept showing up on a table. She would put it away only for it to later show up on the table again.

The marriage had ended because of his infidelity. Time passed and the man developed a terminal illness. Before his death, he repented and asked for his wife’s forgiveness. “Rot in hell!” was her response. She had no intention of forgiving him.

But after his death, it seemed he was making his presence known to his ex-wife. After assessing the situation, Father Lampert believed that the man was in purgatory and in need of prayers. God was allowing him to make his presence known to his ex-wife. “I convinced her to forgive him,” Father Lampert said. “I prayed for him together with her and everything stopped.”

It was not the first time Father Lampert had encountered such hauntings. “I have celebrated Masses in locations where these types of things happen and that usually takes care of it,” he said. “During the Mass, when we pray for the person and everything becomes quiet, then we know this is what was needed. I believe that souls can act in this reality if they are in need of prayer and God permits it.”

Father Lampert said that many people have come to him reporting strange things happening in their homes. “If it’s a soul that’s trapped, it’s seeking prayers and trying to get people’s attention,” he explained. “It needs those prayers to move on to where it needs to be.”

Maybe those ADCs reported by CNN are actually souls in purgatory in need of prayers. The recipients of the contacts were either freaked out or comforted which is certainly a reaction Catholics might have, but we also react with prayer for the comfort of our loved ones incase they have not reached heaven yet. This might be a good reminder to pray for all the souls in purgatory who have no one to pray for them.