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What are the Types of Evil?

March 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Evil, Fr. Fortea, Spiritual Warfare

Father Fortea, what are the types of evil?

types of evilWhile the variety of particular evils is infinite, theologians typically distinguish between physical and moral evils. Remember our earlier definition of evil: the lack (or privation) of a good that should exist in a thing. Here’s a good example of a physical evil: the painting the Mona Lisa is good, but a knife mark left by a vandal would be an evil because it causes a lack of something that should be present, i.e., the integrity of the painting. Water is good, but a lack of water – a drought – produces dehydration, starvation, forest fires, etc. Everything that exists is essentially good, even though it may have defects, because it was created by God who is all-good. When a person knowingly chooses to act against the law of God, he commits a moral evil, a sin. While physical evils cause much suffering, moral evil is more heinous because it flows from the free choice of men (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 310 – 314 for a detailed treatment of the nature and types of evil).


Editor’s Note:  To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. José Antonio Fortea’s excellent book Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.

Father José Antonio Fortea Cucurull is a priest, exorcist, and writer from Spain. He has published many books, some of which have been translated from Spanish into English, and has spoken at various venues in the United States. His most famous title is the Summa Daemoniaca, currently available only in Spanish. His book Exorcistica is a supplemental publication of Summa Daemoniaca.

To see many other posts on spiritual warfare and demonology, please click on the following link to see all our posts in this series: Spiritual Warfare and Demonology Posts (and Their Links) on


Art for this post on the types of evil: Gargoyles, Magdalen College, Oxford England, photographed by Chris Creagh, 27 July 2009 own work, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported; detail of Padre José Antonio Fortea 2017, photographed by Elgatoconbotaselgatoconbotas, 5 May 2017 own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International; both Wikimedia Commons. Cover of “Interview with an Exorcist” used with permission, all rights reserved. Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea

Father José Antonio Fortea is not only an exorcist, but also a writer, and parish priest. He once thought he would lead what he has termed ordinary life as an attorney in Madrid, much as his father did before him, but sensed instead a vocation to the priesthood in his adolescent years. A theology graduate of Navarre University in Spain, Father Fortea wrote a thesis there on exorcism. He has been a practicing exorcist for several decades.

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  • Jeanette

    I found this on : Sin, as distinct from physical evil, which is some form of suffering. It is evil because it is contrary to the will of God; it is moral evil because it is caused by a free created will acting against the law of God, who does not want moral evil as an end or as a means. The Council of Trent condemned the contrary doctrine (Denzinger 816). God simply permits moral evil because of consideration of human freedom, and because he has the wisdom and power to cause good to arise from evil. In the end, moral evil will serve the supreme purpose of the universe, the glorification of God, since it reveals his mercy in forgiving and his justice in punishing.

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