Monday, February 17, 2014

The Vatican and the Voices:

What Does the Church Say About EVP?


One of the questions many people ask me, as a Catholic, is how I reconcile my career in paranormal investigation with my faith. 

According to the Catholic Church, they charge, ghosts don't exist.  When we die, we go to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory, and there is no allowance for the spirits of the dead to exist with us here.

The reality is not exactly on par with this statement.  Certainly, the Church believes in the survival theory. When our body dies, our soul lives on.  It is the foundation of everything we believe: that this physical life is not our "real" one; that our true home lies beyond the world of tactile sensation, pain and death.  The Church obviously exists because of the world of the spirit and for the care of souls.  But just what and where Heaven, Hell and Purgatory are have been far from clear cut matters in the Catholic catechism.  As far as disbelief in ghosts, Christ Himself mentions ghosts in the New Testament, as they are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. 
Certainly too, the Church has always been clear on one thing: we are not to use the spirits to predict the future. The future is only the Lord's to know. But what about communication with the dead at all? What about reserch into Electronic Voice Phenomenon?  Some may be surprised to discover that, in supporting EVP research as a scientific avenue to understanding creation--and the life of the spirit--, the Church has been right there beside the best researchers all along. 

Far from classifying EVP research as dangerous or forbidden, the Church has been supportive to the point of encouraging of such research, and has worked closely with some of the phenomenon’s earliest researchers.

Two of the earliest investigators into the phenomena were Italian Catholic priests, Father Ernetti and Father Gemelli, who came upon the phenomena by chance while they were recording Gregorian chants in 1952.  While listening to some of these recordings, Gemelli heard what he identified as his father’s voice speaking on the audio recording, calling, “Zucchini, it is clear, don’t you know it is I?”  Zucchini was Gemelli’s boyhood nickname.

Gemelli and Ernetti were confounded and concerned by this apparent contact from the dead: enough, in fact, to approach then Pope Pius XII with the recording.  Pope Pius was nonplussed, soothing the priests with these words:

“Dear Father Gemelli, you really need not worry about this. The
existence of this voice is strictly a scientific fact and has nothing
to do with spiritism. The recorder is totally objective. It receives
and records only sound waves from wherever they come. This
experiment may perhaps become the cornerstone for a building for
scientific studies which will strengthen people's faith in a hereafter.”
It was perhaps not surprising that Pope Pius' cousin, the Rev. Dr. Gebhard Frei, co-founder of the Jung Institute, had made a name for himself as a parapsychologist.  Moreover, he had been close colleague to Constantin Raudive, who most “ghost hunters” recognize as one of the pioneers of EVP research.  As president of the the International Society for Catholic Parapsychologists. Frei stated:

“All that I have read and heard forces me to believe that the
voices come from transcendental, individual entities.
Whether it suits me or not, I have no right to doubt the
reality of the voices.”


Pope Paul VI, too, was well informed of the state of research into the EVP that was happening through a close friend of his own, Friedrich Jurgenson, whose work into EVP research impressed the Pope so deeply that he made Jurgenson a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory to honor his contributions.  Jurgenson was very pleased with the friendship he had formed with the Church, and he wrote to a colleague:
“I have found a sympathetic ear for the Voice Phenomenon in the
Vatican. I have won many wonderful friends among the leading
figures in the Holy City. Today 'the bridge' stands firmly on its
foundations.”


Later, the Vatican extended permission for its own priests to conduct EVP research. Father Leo Schmid, a Swiss
theologian, collected more than ten thousand Voices of Unknown Origin, which he documented in his 1976 book, When the Dead Speak.
Also well approved by the Vatican wathe work of s Father Andreas Resch, an EVP researcher who also taught courses in parapsychology at the Vatican.

In England in 1972 four senior members of the Catholic hierarchy
were involved in the famous Pye recording studio tests conducted
by Peter Bander. Of these tests, Fr. Pistone, Superior of the Society of St Paul in England
commented:

“I do not see anything against the teaching of the Catholic
Church in the Voices, they are something extra-ordinary
but there is no reason to fear them, nor can I see any danger.”


Similarly, His excellence, Archbishop H.E. Cardinale, Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium agreed:

“Naturally it is all very mysterious, but we know the voices are there for all to hear them
.”
Most recently, Father Gino Concetti, one of the most well regarded of Vatican theologians, went on record with these words:

“According to the modern catechism, God allows our dear departed
persons who live in an ultra-terrestrial dimension, to send
messages to guide us in certain difficult moments of our lives. The
Church has decided not to forbid any more the dialogue with the
deceased with the condition that these contacts are carried out
with a serious religious and scientific purpose.”


Many thanks to Michael Esposito and Phantom Airwaves for sharing these statements with me.

-Ursula Bielski

3 comments:

Michael Esposito said...

Ursula if the foundational purpose of the church, almost any church, is to prepare our souls for god and the afterlife, it would only stand to reason that it would be interested in the possible proof of such s condition. However, remember the catholic church is still in its infancy and has to protect even more than it's public image, it's authority of it's domain. Who was it said miracles can't just happen, they belong to the church. No on the face of it it may seem blasphemous but for the church to survive it has to be recognized as the authority of such endeavors in dealing with the dead. It simply cannot allow every layman or teenager playing ghost hunter to undermine that authority. That is why most of the researchers taken seriously are either men of the cloth or connected to the same.

Cindi said...

There is lack of consistency within the Catholic Church from Pastor to Pastor. At this point, we work with several priests who refer cases for evaluation. I realize that this is because of my personal service, history and relationships within the Church from many years of service. Fundementally it boils down to control within the church, not scripture. As more people understand they can communicate on a personal basis with the Other Side and perhaps even God, the middle man becomes less an authority. Church is about gathering in a community with like beliefs. But a relationship with your loved ones and God is personal domain.

Deb said...

I'm curious about something. I hope I can adequately explain my curiosity. If one is religious, one accepts the presence of God, Jesus, angels and devils in one's life. There are stories of the latter sending minions to torment people. This would be why there exists an event called 'exorcism'. (I realize that's somewhat simplistic, but please bear with me.) The driving out of devils is not just a Catholic rite. Most religions have some form of exorcism.
When you are recording an EVP and capture what you believe is another voice, how can you be certain it's benign or, at the very least, not a devil. I can see, in places where there is known hostility to the corporeal, the incorporeal may make their wishes to be left alone known via EVP, but that doesn't mean they are of the devil; perhaps just angry at how they find themselves haunting a certain space.
I'm just curious if an EVP is an EVP is an EVP, meaning they are all "the same" for EVP purposes or if you have distinctions in the event of something decidedly "Exorcist"-like.