Saturday, May 17, 2014

Can Catholics Believe in Reincarnation?

First, we have to define the term itself.  “Re-incarnation”, as the word itself suggests, deals with the soul being placed into another body (in-carne) after it has already been in another body.  Father John Hardon, S.J., in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, defines reincarnation, which he identifies by the technical term “Metempsychosis”, in the following way: “The theory of the transmigration of human souls from one body, whether human or animal, to another.  Taught by Plato (427-347 B.C.) and nowadays by theosophists, it is the single most characteristic of the Eastern religions, in the Vedic, mainly Hindu, and Buddhist traditions.” 

At the moment of conception God immediately creates a soul, which is destined for eternal life, and ultimately the Resurrection.  Belief in reincarnation is contrary to the Catholic Faith and cannot be believed.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny.  When ‘the single course of our earthly life’ is completed, we shall not return to other earthly lives: ‘It is appointed for men to die once.’ (Hebrews 9:27) There is no ‘reincarnation’ after death.” (CCC., no. 1013)

By Rev. Ronald W. Check

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