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Does the Roman Catholic Church have a stance on the use of horoscopes (such as for the twelve astrological signs, e.g. Gemini, Virgo, Scorpio)? Specifically, I'd like to know if the Church has taken a stance on:

  • Believing that horoscopes can predict one's future
  • Reading horoscopes for fun, but not taking them seriously

Given that horoscopes have traditionally been used for divination, I am curious if that means that faithful Catholics shouldn't use them, since only God knows the future. Also, has any modern stance been taken for the less serious horoscopes in today's daily newspapers?

  • I am no Catholic, but Horoscopes are considered (and have origins in) witchcraft, and therefore sinful and satanic. – The Mattbat999 Apr 15 '18 at 14:52
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The current Catechism has a "more modern take on the matter" which actually uses the word horoscope.

2116 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.⁴⁸ 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 honour, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

⁴⁸ Cf Deut 18:10, Jer 29:8

This paragraph appears in the section on the Commandments headed "You shall have no other gods before me". Constructing and consulting horoscopes indicates a belief that it's possible to divine the mind of God and predict his plans, which puts Man on a par with God.

I don't believe that astrology works and any belief that we can divine the mind of God is forlorn. However, disobeying God in "making ourselves gods" is what caused the Fall. God is God and it's not for Man to be.

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  • "I don't believe that astrology works" The gravity or light of stars and planets has no effect on us? – Geremia Apr 15 '18 at 2:44
  • The "butterfly effect"/chaos theory can't be accurately predicted on Earth. To attempt to predict the effect on a large population of an even smaller impetus across space is surely futile. – Andrew Leach Apr 15 '18 at 8:30
  • @Geremia At university, I took an astronomy class that was taught by the physics department. I'll never forget when we were learning the formulae for calculating the gravitational effects of stellar objects, and the professor pointed out that even if the gravitational pull of all the planets in our solar system were somehow working together at the moment of your birth, they would still have less gravitational pull than the doctor delivering you. Yes, the planets are big, but they're also really far away! – Thunderforge Apr 21 '18 at 3:22
  • @Thunderforge Read about Mach's principle (cf. §14.8 of Assis's Relational Mechanics and Implementation of Mach's Principle with Weber's Gravitational Force pp. 249-250 and passim). Mach interpreted inertial mass of an object not as due to something inherent in the object (à la Newton, who said inertia is a "property of matter") but due to the gravitational forces of the rest of the universe. – Geremia Apr 21 '18 at 3:30
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The difference between scientific prediction (like weather forecasting*) and divination is that divination is superstitious and involves associating with demons.
*(which Jesus does not forbid but actually commends, instead of not using one's God-given intellect and seeking signs; cf. Mt. 16:2-3 or Lk. 12:54-56)
As St. Thomas writes (Summa Theologica II-II q. 95 a. 2 " Whether divination is a species of superstition?" c.):

superstition includes not only idolatrous sacrifices offered to demons, but also recourse to the help of the demons for the purpose of doing or knowing something.

St. Thomas Aquinas treats the question of forecasting vs. divination at length in his short work on "casting lots," De sortibus, the last chapter (ch. 5) of which addresses the question of whether it is permitted for Christians to use lots; it begins with him saying that "it is obvious that no Christian is permitted to have any pact of association with the demons."

St. Thomas Aquinas even explains why "astrologers not unfrequently forecast the truth by observing the stars" in Summa Theologica II-II q. 95 a. 5 ("Whether divination by the stars is unlawful?") ad 2:

astrologers not unfrequently forecast the truth by observing the stars…because a great number of men follow their bodily passions, so that their actions are for the most part (in pluribus) disposed in accordance with the inclination of the heavenly bodies: while there are few, namely, the wise (sapientes) alone, who moderate these inclinations by their reason. The result is that astrologers in many cases foretell the truth, especially in public occurrences which depend on the multitude (ex multitudine).

(source: my History of Science & Mathematics StackExchange question "Historical development of role of astrology in medicine?")

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    I'm not sure that modern horoscope users associate the practice with demons, or really any supernatural entities. Like, reading the prediction for Virgo in the newspaper isn't viewed as being guided by demons or whatever. Are there any more modern takes on the matter? – Thunderforge Apr 14 '18 at 22:58

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