What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the Roman Catholic church? When I search online, I mostly find stuff about filioque. But I want to know specifically what he does. What is his role? How does he affect our salvation?

  • Good question, there's a lot of answer to be had here.
    – Peter Turner
    Nov 16 '11 at 19:30
  • Are you saying my question is probably too broad? Would it make a difference if I asked specifically what is unique about the Catholic belief? I'm sure there's a lot of overlap with other denominations.
    – user23
    Nov 17 '11 at 4:11
  • It's a really good question. The Holy Spirit is often not given His credit due in the Catholic Church. I just remembered all the interesting things that I learned last year in a Catechist training class. The problem is that the 'role' of the Holy Spirit requires a little clarification because in Catholic teaching, where the Spirit is, there also is the Father and the Son. So you always need to preface the answer with, there is not role assigned to the Holy Spirit, but X.Y.Z. are the roles assigned to the Holy Spirit, which makes a confusing answer.
    – Peter Turner
    Nov 17 '11 at 14:41
  • @PeterTurner Feel free to add to my rather sparse answer. Nov 17 '11 at 21:42

The theology of the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost - the two terms mean the same thing) is a huge subject. This article gives a systematic explanation from the Catholic point of view.

Catholic theology of the Holy Spirit is very little different from general Protestant or Orthodox theology of the Holy Spirit, with a few notable exceptions, which I will attempt to list:

  1. It is generally accepted that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to guide the interpretation of the Scriptures. There is variation in how the Spirit is believed to do this. Protestants believe the Spirit does this either through Christians in general, or through the community of the church. Catholics believe that the Spirit does this through the church and its structures - specifically the Catholic church.
  2. Catholics would fall in with mainstream Protestants (but not Pentecostals) in believing that the supernatural gifts of the Spirit (tongues, healings etc.) are not given to all Christians, and are relatively rare.
  3. One important but obscure belief specific to Catholics is the belief that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the God the Father and the Son. This beliefs is notable only because it is the nominal cause of the split between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

There may be others that I am unaware of.


Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, an Anglican who converted to Catholicism, was the author of the First Vatican Council's definition on papal infallibility in Pastor Æternus. He wrote an excellent book exactly on the question of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Roman Catholic Church:

The temporal mission of the Holy Ghost : or, Reason and revelation (1865)

Briefly, His role is to

  1. guard the deposit of faith or Revelation in all its truth,
  2. prevent the Church from teaching error,
  3. guide the development of doctrine,
  4. give council to the church (and all His other gifts, too),
  5. enable the Church to interpret the true sense of Scripture,
  6. ensure the infallibility of the Pope when he defines dogma pertaining to faith or morals,



If you attend a mass in a catholic church, the priest usually talks about the gifts of holly spirit and what it does to you. You receive it and it stays with you from the time of your babptise. We do talk about the holly spirit in catholic faith all the time! Here are some suggestion for you: The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (or courage), knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. You can find an in-depth discussion of each in The Gifts of the Holy Spirit. If you read the rosary prayer every day, you can see it in our holly rosary prayer and book, there are a lot of indications about holly spirit in our bible etc... when god sends the tongues of fires to his desciples...and what they are for, what they can do for you....

  • 1
    Could you please edit this to fix some typos and missing capitals etc?
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 13 '14 at 12:22

holy spirit is greatly manifested on Pentecost day where the apostles speak in many tongues understandable by people..this is one sign that shows that the main work of the holy spirit is to gather all nations to the bossom of their father one God through the many gifts he(holyspirit) gives.he breaks all barriers of racism,classes,status quo or even creed which are his worst enemies.the gifts he gives are meant to bring unity in truth not factions nor rivarly..this the reason why we attributed unity to the holy spirit in the prayer of the grace of lord..

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