It is a Catholic dogma (De Fide) that

human souls are immediately created by God.

In this answer, the issue arose about what exactly "immediately" means. I'm not sure a satisfactory answer was given, so I think a post dedicated to it might be helpful.

The Catechism, in point 366 states:

The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents ...

The quote below, from an article by Father John A. Hardon, S.J (taken from the referred answer) might be useful, as it might indicate what "immediately" is not supposed to mean:

The Vatican Council defined against the pantheists that, “If anyone says that finite things, both corporeal and spiritual, or at least spiritual, emanated from the divine substance...Let him be anathemas DB 1801. Thus it is defined that however the soul originates, it is not by way of emanation from the deity.

Benedict XII in 1341 condemned the errors of certain Orientals, on the occasion of prospects for reuniting the schismatic Armenians with Rome. "A certain teacher,” wrote the pope, "again introduced the teaching that the human soul of a son is propagated from the soul of his father, as his body is from the body of his father. He taught also that angels are propagated one from another. He gave as his reason for this that, since a rational existing human soul, and an angel existing in an intellectual nature are a kind of spiritual light, they propagate other spiritual lights from themselves" DB 533. The Armenian who held this doctrine was named Mechitriz, which means “paraclete." By condemning Mechitriz, Benedict XI condemned generationism, even of a spiritual kind, since the erroneous teaching referred to both human souls and the angels.

Still, it is not clear what exactly immediately is supposed to mean. Has this term been defined elsewhere, perhaps? Is there a definitive teaching on this?

  • Please include CCC365 on your question as it is a prerequisite in understanding CCC366 you cited. " The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body:" If the soul is the form of the body therefore once conception unfold the soul must be immediately infused otherwise it is a "formless body" according to Church definition of a human being. Feb 13, 2019 at 20:17
  • 3
    In my language the translation means that God directly creates soul without any mediators, for example parents.
    – Grasper
    Feb 13, 2019 at 20:18
  • 2
    It seems clear that all Catholics believe it is at the moment that a sperm and egg unite. It also seems clear that no official position stating that fact is written in catholic dogma
    – Kris
    Feb 14, 2019 at 3:06
  • When was cc366 written? In what language? Is it possible that immediate means something other than without any intervening time passing?
    – Kris
    Feb 14, 2019 at 15:12

6 Answers 6


"Immediately means that God directly creates soul without any mediators, for example parents."

God creates human bodies through the reproductive powers of human parents. But each soul is a direct creation and gift of God (see Catechism, No. 366). Source

  • 1
    Im-Mediately? shouldn't it have said Un-Mediatorly?
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 13, 2019 at 21:35
  • 2
    @PeterTurner "Said of a person or thing in its relation to another: that has no intermediary or intervening member, medium, or agent; that is in actual contact or direct personal relation." - This is the primary meaning of the word 'immediate' in the OED. The meaning 'without any intermediary time occurring' is a secondary meaning.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 13, 2019 at 23:19
  • 1
    Immediately will also mean since God will no longer take part in forming the flesh like in Adam & Eve, but will just fulfill His already uttered words "men & women He created them" it's already in the prophetic mind of God so Isaiah55:11 will immediately happen. God does not breathe a "soul", God "breathe Divine Life/sanctifying grace". Human soul is created not breathe-in. So, the soul that immediately created is devoid of "sanctifying grace" and was immediately created & infused only in the "order of nature'. Feb 14, 2019 at 0:11

Because the Catechism is perspicuous and the vatican website has an awesome word indexy thing...

  Part,  Sect., Chapter, Paragraph
 1    1,   2,     1,  303|      providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from
 2    1,   2,     1,  360|       soul; in the unity of its immediate end and its mission in the
 3    1,   2,     2,  473|      case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of
 4    1,   2,     2,  523|       the Baptist is the Lord's immediate precursor or forerunner,
 5    1,   2,     3,  690|      the Son with the Spirit is immediate, so that anyone who would
 6    1,   2,     3,  762|       of a great people.157 Its immediate preparation begins with
 7    1,   2,     3,  861| testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of
 8    1,   2,     3,  895|        is proper, ordinary, and immediate, although its exercise is
 9    1,   2,     3,  895|      the Pope. His ordinary and immediate authority over the whole
10    1,   2,     3,  937|    institution, "supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in
11    1,   2,     3, 1022|           or immediately,593-or immediate and everlasting damnation.594~
12    1,   2,     3, 1028|         up his mystery to man's immediate contemplation and gives
13    3,   2,     2, 2408|         only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food,
14    3,   2,     2, 2440|         appropriate response to immediate, extraordinary needs caused

   Part,  Sect., Chapter, Paragraph
 1    1,   2,     1,  257|           the ages began", stemming immediately from Trinitarian love.95
 2    1,   2,     1,  366|           spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced"
 3    1,   2,     1,  369|         dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.240
 4    1,   2,     1,  382|            immortal soul is created immediately by God.~
 5    1,   2,     1,  399|          disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original
 6    1,   2,     2,  442|               and in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus,
 7    1,   2,     2,  538|             for Jesus in the desert immediately after his baptism by John.
 8    1,   2,     3,  730|            the Father,"119 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by "
 9    1,   2,     3,  749|        about the Holy Spirit, which immediately precedes it. "Indeed, having
10    1,   2,     3, 1021|          that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance
11    1,   2,     3, 1022| heaven-through a purification592 or immediately,593-or immediate and everlasting
12    1,   2,     3, 1035|           of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of
13    2,   2,     1, 1233|        begins with Baptism followed immediately by Confirmation and the
14    2,   2,     1, 1298|           adults are baptized, they immediately receive Confirmation and
15    2,   2,     1, 1312|            priest who baptizes also immediately confers Confirmation in
16    2,   2,     1, 1318|           sacrament is administered immediately after Baptism and is followed
17    3,   1,     1, 1806|        measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience.
18    3,   1,     3, 1960|             by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation
19    3,   1,     3, 2002|          the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves
20    3,   2,     1, 2083|          with all your mind."1 This immediately echoes the solemn call: "
21    3,   2,     2, 2540|             s progress and you will immediately give glory to God. Because
22    4,   1,     1, 2604|          hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: "I know that you always
23    4,   1,     1, 2639|        prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds
24    4,   1,     3, 2737|           be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you

Its seems as if the English translation of the CCC uses immediate to mean an extreme closeness of time and space. When it applies to supernatural things, it is supernaturally immediate (i.e. faster than you can say Jack Robinson) and when applied to man it is naturally immediate (i.e. ASAP)

  • 1
    Well, in modern Latin immediatus seems to mean both without mediation and adjacent in time. The question is, what was it supposed to mean when the dogma was first stated (14th century). In English, truly, the most common meaning is that of adjacent in time, but modern use might not truly represent original use.
    – luchonacho
    Feb 15, 2019 at 9:42

What does it mean for the soul to be “immediately” created by God?

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we can read the following phrase:

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.

A much clearer statement is needed in order to pinpoint the time when the soul and the body are united. The Catechism of the Catholic Church §366 does not state when this happens, only that the spiritual soul is created immediately by God. The statement "immediately created by God" implies that only God and God alone creates human immortal rational souls and when He does so it is instantaneous; yet it does not say when the precise moment in time that their souls were infused into their bodies.

In wy response to this question (At what point is a new soul created according to the Catholic Church?), I pointed out that for the Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott, "created immediately by God" in §366 seems to mean "created at the moment of the soul's unification with the body." A much clearer statement than it might look. The relevant section of Ott is page 100; he says that this is sent certa but perhaps it's at a higher level now that it appears in the Catechism (not sure how that works).

Logically Ott's comment makes sense in light of both Pope Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis and Pope St. John Paul II encyclical letter, Evangelium Vitae both admit that the Church has not pronounced definitively as to when the soul is united to the fetus. Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae was written after the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published (March 25, 1997).

Pope Pius XII in his encyclical letter Humani Generis permits Catholics to believe that both Adam and Eve may have been born through a process of evolution and if this were to be the case, both would be the soul would be infused into their souls at the same time as the rest of the human race:

  1. For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith.[11] Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question. - Humani Generis

Here we see that the souls of Adam and Eve were immediately created by God implies that only God and God alone creates human immortal souls yet does not say when that precise moment in time their souls were infused into their bodies.

Even though the Catechism of the Catholic Church (October 11, 1992) points towards human life starting at the very moment of conception; this subject has not been taken up in a papal encyclical letter or bull. Let us not forget that even Pope St. John Paul II stated that the Church had not made any affirmations on this subject in his encyclical letter, Evangelium Vitae (March 25, 1997).

Pope John Paul II is still much clearer:

Throughout Christianity's two thousand year history, this same doctrine has been constantly taught by the Fathers of the Church and by her Pastors and Doctors. Even scientific and philosophical discussions about the precise moment of the infusion of the spiritual soul have never given rise to any hesitation about the moral condemnation of abortion.

60 Furthermore, what is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo. Precisely for this reason, over and above all scientific debates and those philosophical affirmations to which the Magisterium has not expressly committed itself, the Church has always taught and continues to teach that the result of human procreation, from the first moment of its existence, must be guaranteed that unconditional respect which is morally due to the human being in his or her totality and unity as body and spirit: "The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life". - Evangelium Vitae

  • It seems that this long answer of church doctrine of "at the moment of conception" is still not acceptable to many. What is the wisdom why a Church cannot defined it using science? if science had proven that conception starts at 40 days for example.Do you think God will be bind by the declaration of the Church to produce a soul whether He like it or not because the Church had Decreed that within 40 days a "soul" must be created. God will just laugh at us, that's why Isaiah reminded us man's thought are not God thoughts.Isaiah55:8-9 Feb 14, 2019 at 3:06
  • What was the original meaning of the word? We might need to dig into the history of Latin here, as "immediately" comes from the Latin immediatus, which now includes both "unmediated" and "adjacent in time" meanings. E.g here.
    – luchonacho
    Feb 15, 2019 at 9:46
  • @luchonacho I'm not aware of "immediate"/"immediately" having the connotation of "short interval of time" in Latin or theology. The original meaning is surely "without a mediator". (in - negation + mediatus - something which is in the middle)
    – eques
    Mar 29, 2021 at 16:29

I offer as a possibility that the word immediately can have a meaning not associated with timing.
In this definition we see:

14c., "intervening, interposed;" early 15c., "with nothing interposed; direct," also with reference to time, "without delay, instant," from Old French immediat (14c.), from Late Latin immediatus "without anything between," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + mediatus "in the middle" (see mediate).

If my premise is correct cc366 is saying the soul is created directly by God. That would make sense as the body is said to be produced through procreation.


Answer :

"Immediately means at the moment of conception"

Almighty God is not subject to man's finite time of before and after. Man has no faculties to determine when the conception begins even science conclusion cannot bind God. The determination of "moment of conception" is all subject to the Omnipotence of God, that why's He commanded "Thou shall not kill" because the giving of Life is Sacred, there's no slight of human intervention so that they can have a slightest right to terminate one's precious life.

As scriptures reminded the proud man that 'man's wisdom is foolishness to God".

Isaiah 55:8-9 King James Version (KJV) 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So, very clearly God is telling all creatures that they cannot fathom the thought of God when it comes to the giving of Life, all the creatures can do is to obey the fifth commandment. "Thou shall not kill" and the LAW begins "at the moment of conception". But since man and science has no certainty where conception begins, it is like God saying clearly DO NOT TOUCH the Life of my precious creation.

Even Satan was commanded by God explicitly "DO NOT TOUCH" the Life of Job.

Satan followed God because of his sad exprerienced on the Garden of Eden when he "TOUCHED Eve", God punished and cursed him.

The Fate of the Serpent

So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and every beast of the field! On your belly will you go, and dust you will eat, all the days of your life. (Genesis3:14)

If God punished and cursed Satan for "TOUCHING the Sanctity of Life God gave to Eve", then what more to us mere mortals whom God had given a clear command "THOU SHALL NOT KILL".

Note : St.Hildegard Poem had mentioned that "Eve had destroy her sacred womb by her ignorance".

CCC365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body:234 i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

Based on the Church definition that the "soul is the form of the body". Therefore at the moment conception unfold the soul created by God must be immediately infused otherwise we have a "formless body" without a soul and it will contradict the church 2000 years doctrine.


Based on the on the direct WORD of the Abba Father the Maker of Heaven and Earth when He sent Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary to relay His message.

"And, behold, thou shalt "CONCEIVE" in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.(Luke1:31)

Almighty God Maker of Heaven and Earth said Mary will "CONCEIVE" first.

So, it's very clear that the point of reference where human life begins must be at the moment of "CONCEPTION".


The Faith of the Apostles was Decreed in the Council of Nicea 325AD.

"I believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth.And in Jesus Christ His only Begotten Son who was "CONCEIVED" by the power of the Holy Spirit...."


Since, God only said "you will CONCEIVE first" but did not clarify when is the period of conception, then God inspired & explicitly defined the point of reference thru His Wisdom on the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Catholic Church defined the Immaculate Conception "at the FIRST INSTANCE of conception"

Now, that the point of reference where human life begins is dogmatically clear. there's should be no more further discussion as this was already proclaimed a DOGMATIC TRUTH.

The defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception states:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."(1854 Pope Pius IX, declared ex cathedra)

In closing, with these three Divine Revelation pointing clearly to "conception" as the point of reference where soul is immediately infused whether created or formed . The DIVINE TRUTH, APOSTOLIC TRUTH and DOGMATIC TRUTH clearly is the basis of the succeeding Pope pronouncement that Life is Sacred and must be respected and protected at the moment of conception.

  • I don't get to know who -1'd your post, but it might just be for style. All the ALL CAPS and whatnot. I don't see why this isn't correct, or at last helpful. If Our Lady was had a soul that needed to be preserved from stain of sin at the first instance of her conception it certainly follows that the rest of us were given a soul that was stained by sin at the first instance of our conceptions. I'm not sure the Church herself connects those dots, but you certainly have put them to good use.
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 13, 2019 at 21:43
  • @Peter Turner thanks for enlightening me.I now fully embraced that there was no "before or after" only "at the moment of conception" and the word "First Instance" eliminate the word before or after.Jesus & Mary's human soul seems to border on pre-existent only because they were created in the Heavenly Realm because their human soul was created in the "order of grace" and not like Adam descendants whom created at the "order of nature" meaning in the earthly realm that was subject to time unlike Jesus & Mary which is subject to grace. Plus a human created soul cannot exist in eternity with God. Feb 13, 2019 at 21:55
  • @jongricafort after death does not the human soul exist in eternity with God according to the Catholic Church. This is why I prefer the view that man becomes a living soul at the moment life begins and ceases to exist when life ends.
    – Kris
    Feb 13, 2019 at 22:17
  • @Kris nope only glorified soul will enter God's Kingdom in eternity and the wicked soul will be damned in hell in eternity. The soul will face God in judgement. God had given us a soul that will animate our body to glorify God and to follow His Will to achieve divination/Theosis. For Catholics if we lived the life of perfection like the saints our soul go straight to heaven but if there's a slight imperfection it will be cleanse in purgatory because nothing defiled shall enter the Kingdom of God. Feb 13, 2019 at 22:33
  • 1
    Jong Ricafort, your answer as well inspire as possible is rather difficult to follow to say the least. I do not see an answer in it about the term "immediately" in it's definition in your response. It is not a question as when, but what here.
    – Ken Graham
    Feb 13, 2019 at 22:44

There are at least two reason (more reasons previously shown above) that ensoulment is at conception…

  1. Since an unborn baby is alive then it must necessarily have a soul because the soul is the animating force of the body.
  2. "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Psalm 51:5. This is a reference to original sin at conception which necessitates a spiritual soul from God at conception.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .