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Difference Between Episcopalian and Catholic

Episcopalian vs. Catholic

Episcopalians and Catholics are very much alike and sometimes hard to distinguish from each another. As most of us know, Catholic means “found everywhere” or to be exact, “universal”. We can see some of their practices and beliefs in almost all religion. This makes people confused whether a church is Roman Catholic or Episcopal. You can tell them apart by noticing how they conduct their masses and their practices.

One of the major differences of Episcopalians to the Catholics is that they allow women, in most provinces but not all, to be ordained as priests unlike in the Catholicism where only men are allowed to become priests. But they wore quite the same clothing when preaching. Priests and bishops in the Episcopal religion are allowed to marry if they want to. Another difference is that the Episcopal church, unlike the Catholic’s, reject the idea of the Bishop of Rome — the Pope — having the supreme authority over the Universal Church. They also do not have a centralized authority figure like of the Catholic’s Pope but they have bishops and cardinals. The bishops of the Episcopal religion are generally elected by the people and not like the Catholics; their bishops are assigned by the Pope because as mentioned earlier, the Episcopalians don’t believe in having Popes.

One of the biggest practices of being a Catholic is the confession of the sins. Catholics confess to their priest to cleanse their sins and ask forgiveness from the Lord. The Episcopalians however, do not believe in this. They don’t have confessions. They believe that the only way to ask for forgiveness is to talk to the Lord directly and tell Him your sins.

It is part of a Catholic’s life to pray to the saints and ask for their guidance and protection besides God. They believe that a particular saint is a patron to some of their everyday activity. In an Episcopalian life, they too believe in saints and even named some of their churches after them. But in their point of view, it is not right to worship false idols. They do recognize saints as holy people to be honored but do not pray to them. They do pray about the saints but it is to God they address their prayers to in thanks for giving them examples which they call saints.

Another major difference of the Episcopal Church to The Catholic Church is their open communion. Catholic churches only give communions to those who are members of the church. It means, you have to be a Catholic first in order to receive the Holy Communion. But in the Episcopalian Church, anyone can receive communion even if they are not Episcopalian.

Lastly, being separated from the Pope’s authority, Episcopalian married couples have the freewill to use birth controls. But the Catholics are under the Pope’s supervision, thus making them prohibited from using any birth control measures.

Summary:

1. Men and women can be ordained as priests in the Episcopalian Church. They could get married too. But in a Catholic church, only males are allowed to become priests and are not allowed to get married.

2. Episcopalians don’t surrender to the Pope’s authority but have bishops and cardinals that are chosen in election. Meanwhile, Catholics are under the Pope’s authority.

3. Confession of sins to priests is not practiced in an Episcopal Church but exercised by the Catholics.

4. The Episcopalians believe that saints are mere examples of what God wants them to be but in a Catholic’s perspective, they are to be asked for guidance as well.

5. You can take part in an Episcopalian Communion whether you are an Episcopal or not, but can’t participate in a Catholic Communion if you are not a Catholic.

6. Episcopalian communities are allowed to use birth control but Catholics are not.


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44 Comments

  1. There are a number of elementary mistaken ideas in your article above:
    May I suggest that your writers use the Book of Common Prayer for consultation.

    Under summary (1) – the correct way of speaking of our church is
    The Episcopal Church; People are Episcopalians.

    Under summary (2) – An Episcopal Bishop in each local Diocese is elected by lay delegates that come from each parish and clergy of that Diocese. We don’t have cardinals. (An occasion bird, however.)
    Episcopalians respect the Pope as the Bishop of Rome and see him “as first among equals.”

    Under summary (3) – Confession is a practice of the Episcopal Church.
    It can be done in a number of ways:
    a) most commonly, in a general confession by the congregation each time the
    Eucharist is celebrated and at other times;
    b) much rarer, however,directly to a priest

    Under summary (5) We would say an Episcopal Communion Service (not Episcopalian)

    Under summary (6) not only allowed to use birth control, but encourage to use birth control according to the individuals concerned. We also see it as an important way not to overpopulate.

    • Thank you so much Reverend McCann, for your response to this post. It provided me with much clarification.
      I have been a Catholic my whole life, but the recent news of the Catholic Church fighting full-force against contraception, as well as my life-long frustration with the inequality of women and the unrepresented congregation in decisions regarding the lives of Catholics worldwide…has led me to finding a new place where I can raise my children with my faith, but without the doctrines that I cannot in good conscience follow.
      I have decided to join a wonderful Episcopal Church which has welcomed us with open arms.
      It is pleasing to me to know that the sacrament of reconciliation will still be available to me and that, when I teach my children about the equality of men and women, I will not have to explain why there are no women in authority at church.

      Sharon, I do not know if you belong to a particularly liberal diocese, or if your Priest is more open. I have to say that, after an entire childhood of catechism, and generations of Catholics surrounding me my whole life, I am unfamiliar with a Roman Catholic Church that claims that anyone who is a Protestant is welcome to receive Holy Communion (Eucharist). It is a Sacrament which requires religious education and a Holy blessing.

      • How could you decide to just change religon?? If you just decided to do that then you just didn’t have enough faith.

        • How you worship God is a very personal thing? When we become of age, we all have to decide which is the best fit. Deciding to change to a church that allows you better express you faith and serve God is not an indication of a lack of faith, but rather an indication of a true desire to worship and serve God to best of your ability.

        • She didn’t “change religions”. she changed the denomination. That’s a HUGE difference. You are acting like she decided not to believe that Jesus is the son of God and her savior.

  2. Wrong about the Catholic communion service. Protestants are allowed to participate in a Catholic communion service.

    • Sharon Westey, you are incorrect. Only Catholics who have completed their First Holy Communion can partake in Communion at a Catholic Mass. This is because we believe in transubstantiation, which happens when the priest blesses the host and wine. It is also why we don’t take Communion at Protestant services, because they don’t believe in transubstantiation.

    • Only Catholics can received Christ during the mass. My church has a statement up on our video screens asking all non Catholic to respect the laws of our religion and refrain from taking communion. Now we have no idea who is Catholic or not, so you can receive but it would be against Catholic law.

  3. I just wanted to clarify that as it is many times misinterpreted, even by members of the church, Catholics do not pray to the saints, instead they are asking the saints to pray for them, and asking God to let them follow the example of that saint. As many times it is said during the mass “Saint (enter name here) Pray for us.”

    • Yes! Thank you. The Catechism of the Catholic church even defines prayer as raising one’s mind and heart to God… as a church we do not pray to Saints. God bless!

    • In both Roman Catholicism and Anglican Catholicism (Anglicans and Episcopalians), all members of the Communion of Saints may pray to or for one another, living or dead and of course can pray directly to God, the source of all power. To pray is to ask another to use his or her power in a certain way . In both denominations, only God, not even Mary, is to be adored. Believers in both denominations ask the “saints” (all the holy ones, including Jesus and often in Jesus’s name) to pray or intercede to God for them

      Episcopalians have a broader formal definition of saints, respecting as saints anyone who was canonized before the schism of the Anglican branch when Henry VIII refused to pay taxes to the Pope. They also respect as saints many who seem worthy since then, such as Martin Luther King and Hannah Arendt and Pope John XXIII.

      People are “declared” saints by the Anglican / Episcopal Communion (Church, capital C). They are not “canonized” as they are in the Roman Catholic Communion (or capital C Church).

      The only big differences between the two are that Episcopalians practice equality in regard to women and men, do not have cardinals or monsignors (but do have nuns, deacons, monks, priests, bishops, and archbishops), do not see the pope or anyone else as infallible, and believe that during the Eucharist, the process the bread and wine undergo is consubstantiation not transubstantiation. Birth control, not abortion, is fine for Episcopalians, but Episcopalians do not claim to know officially when the soul enters the body.

      Episcopalians take it literally that Jesus’s biological brother was James and that, as the bible says, they had other sisters and brothers.

      Both have seven sacraments, the same ones. The only way I would be sure that I were in a Catholic Mass rather than an Epicopalian one would be if the people said, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you” (or” that you should enter under my roof”); speak but the word and my soul will be healed.” Since the majority of Episcopalians I know are former Roman Catholics, many of them, like me, still say that prayer silently (I say it in Latin, the language of my youth). And I have received absolution in private confession (sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation) from Episcopal priests during my 35 years of being an Epicopalian.

  4. I was baptized in the Church of England and confirmed in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. In England and the U.S. my whole life has been strongly associated with High Church worship and indeed I am under the banner of Protestant Reformed but only in the name. I am an Anglo-Catholic and many of the Roman Catholic prayers to the saints are definitely used in many High Church and or Anglo-Catholic Episcopal and Anglican Churches. Personally,I pray the rosary of the blessed virgin Mary daily without fail nor shame. Also the Book of Common Prayer is the official book of the Anglican Communion. I may be a rare case and very traditional for my age (22) but I was raised very formal and traditional. Bottomline is that We are Christians and Jesus is the True Answer whether you be Catholic,Orthodox or Protestant. Also King Henry VIII did not really start the Church of England. Pope Gregory in 604 A.D. sent missionaries to Britain. Our Heritage is both orthodox,catholic and apostolic. So for all those ignorant to us please note that we are a very much so valid true church just like that of the Roman one. When you learn the fullness of Church History, you will see the Roman Catholic Church as only one of the most beautiful ancient churhes of Christianity. May God Bless All who Read This And May you be more educated and not so judgmental and harsh to one another for Christ is Love. Remember.

    • Matt, that was beautiful and awesome, Thank You!!

    • Matt, it is great you have such faith where there is very little today. But unfortunately you have put your faith in a church that does not have a beautiful history. In fact the Catholic Church has a very bloody and ugly past. I for one cannot be a part of a religion that has done the things the church has, and saying they did them in the name of Christ. Christ would never have accepted the Catholic Church. Look up the history of the Catholic Church, it is in all encyclopedias for all to read. I have.

      • I agree with Melisa. The Roman Catholic Church is a false Christian denomination. A lot of their teachings and traditions completely contradict the King James Version Bible. The RCC has been notorious for adding and taking away from the their Bible. For example, they changed the 10 commandments by removing the 2nd commandment. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…” When Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary, they are actually committing idolatry. Secondly, there is no such thing as purgatory. The RCC added extra books to the Bible known as the Apocrypha as their way to validate purgatory. The Catholic mass is also an act of heresy. What Christ did on the cross is enough. There need to be no more sacrifices after that. Infant baptism is also unbiblical. If you do your research and your homework, you will find that Constantine merged ancient Babylonian occultism with Christianity as a way to attract new believers when he first established the RCC. The RCC is not Christian at all or by any means.

      • Melisa,

        Christianity is a religion, Catholicism is a denomination. ALL Christian denominations stem from Catholicism, and though Catholicism has a blood past, that doesn’t mean its future must be overshadowed by this. Your statement indicates that you believe that one cannot be forgiven for ones past transgressions, which is the exact opposite of what Christ stood (and stands) for. Quit being so pretentious and judging others because they don’t practice their faith in the same manner as you.

        • Steph,

          You are incorrect when you claim that ALL Christian denominations stem from Catholicism. There are many Christian denominations that started in North America that have absolutely no background in Catholicism. Take for example non-denomination Evangelical churches or even Seventh-Day Adventism.

          • Very well, I will concede to your point on Evangelicals & SDA. However, please stop spreading your ignorance of the Catholic church when it comes to Mary & the saints. Though you do not agree with our dogma, that doesn’t mean we pray TO anyone but God & Jesus.

          • Ang I think you are wrong. It is a valid assumption that all foxes are red but not apples. You must see the light.

  5. After feeling very welcomed at a few Episcopal events I’ve attended recently, I have a question. Is weekly attendance at mass mandatory as the catholics are and is communion offered at every mass ?

  6. I have grown up in the Episcopal church my whole life but I have also been to mass at the Catholic church and I can basically do the same thing! I think the only thing we do different in the Episcopal church is we say the whole Lords prayer they don’t, at my friends church they don’t kneel for communion. We do confess our sins just as a congregation. We are more welcoming and less judgmental then the Catholics no offense. Hope this helped!

    • I don’t know where you people get your information from!

      Catholics say the entire Lord’s Prayer. We pause before the last line to allow the priest to say a special blessing then the congregation continues with “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

      Also, like Lauryn stated above, we do not pray TO the Saints. We believe that the dead have the ability to watch over us and pray FOR us. We ask the dead, usually Saints but also friends & family who have passed on, to pray for us just as when we ask a living friend to do the same.

      • A prayer is a type of communication with one of three types of subjects:
        1. Giving Thanks
        2. Asking for forgiveness
        3. Asking for some form of help

        Therefore, asking the saints to pray for you falls under #3, which is a form of prayer. And besides, the Bible plainly states that the only spirits you should communicate with are the Holy Trinity. Jesus is living, you should never ask the dead for anything.

        • By your interpretation of these criteria, it is blasphemous to ask anyone (dead or alive) for help. Asking for prayers is not a direct request for help, so I respectfully disagree with you.

      • The dead cannot hear your prayers because they have already passed on. Jesus can hear your prayers because He is the one true living God.

  7. The differences between the two religions seems silly and some of the comments, self righteous. I just don’t understand how all of you (who are probably very intelligent) can actually keep a straight face believing in this stuff?

    The one thing that is the same in the two religions is that you damage many children by telling them they will burn in hell if they do not believe in this god/ghost or that god/ghost.

    I was raised orthodox Christian and believe me, I had nightmares about the devil. I will never forgive my patents for subjecting me to that at such a young age when I could not understand or choose for myself. Shame on them and all if you if you do the same to your children.

    With that said I wish you all the best.

  8. The differences between the two religions seems silly and some of the comments, self righteous and petty. I just don’t understand how all of you (who are probably very intelligent) can actually keep a straight face believing in this stuff?

    The one thing that is the same in the two religions is that you damage many children by telling them they will burn in hell if they do not believe in this god/ghost or that god/ghost.

    I was raised orthodox Christian and believe me, I had nightmares about the devil. I will never forgive my patents for subjecting me to that at such a young age when I could not understand or choose for myself. Shame on them and all if you if you do the same to your children.

    With that said I wish you all the best.

  9. Do Episcopalians believe in transubstantiation? In other words, when they take communion, do they believe that they are taking the literal blood and body of Christ like Catholics do? Or do they take it symbolically like how Protestants do?

  10. To clarify no church has female priests because that would be impossible by definition… the word priest is male and the word priestess is female. There is no such thing as a female priest anymore than there is a female father. There is no such thing as a priestess in the Jewish or Christian religion. There are important female roles in the Bible but they are not priestess, they are prophets or disciples of God. Blessings!

  11. This is an interesting point really. What kind of differences are postulative? also isn’t this chutiyagiri? think abt it

    JB

  12. Another major difference of the Episcopal Church to The Catholic Church is their open communion. Catholic churches only give communions to those who are members of the church. It means, you have to be a Catholic first in order to receive the Holy Communion. But in the Episcopalian Church, anyone can receive communion even if they are not Episcopalian.

    So does this mean in an ‘Episcopalian’ church that anyone can receive communion who’s been baptized by ANY church, or anyone at all regardless if they are baptized or NOT BAPTIZED BY ANY CHURCH WHATSOEVER, can receive communion.

  13. On 1/9/2009 Pope Benedict XVI named Seamus Cunningham Bishop-elect of the Hexham and Newcastle Diocese. Thereafter, Bishop Cunningham was ordained as an Episcopalian priest on 3/20/2009. (Wikipedia) I am familiar with certain dioceses accepting former Protestant, and sometimes married, priests but I’ve never heard of it going the other way. This appears to mean that an Episcopalian priest is conducting Catholic services and answering to the Pope after being ordained Episcopalian.

    What am I missing? All Christian religions followed the same path until Rome created Roman Catholicism. Since that time there have been some significant moves away from RC but I think the Episcopalian move was not terribly significant. Still, there is a reason people choose one faith over another.

    I guess my bottom line question is whether Episcopalian priests can remain Episcopalian while still answering to the Pope. Moreover, it would seem that by doing so the priest would have to denounce his Protestant faith first rather than being ordained Episcopalian afterwards.

    Thanks from Confused

    • The Wikipedia entry says, “He received his episcopal consecration on 20 March 2009…” This is “Catholic speak” for he became bishop. He is not, and never was, Episcopalian. The Pope appointed him Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle on January 2, 2009 & took office on March 20, 2009.

  14. I’m Episcopalian and my wife is Catholic. Most of the time we GI to the Catholic church because it is nearby and it is the Church my wife is a member of. I always wondered if I can recieve communion there, since I have been confirmed and baptized in a Episcopal Church. So one morning I decided to go up to the alter and receive communion without knowing you have to be Catholic to receive communion. Anyway I received communion and stepped away from the alter and headed towards the aisle to bow and right before I can do it, a man from the congregation grabbed my arm in front of everyone and told me to go up to the alter and bow! I felt very uncomfortable because of his judgemental demeanor towards me. So now when I go to church with my wife I feel kind of uptight and I don’t want to feel that way. So next Sunday we are going to attend the Episcopal Church, and see how my wife’s vibe is about the Episcopal Church To me I don’t care what denomination you are, as long as you bekieve in Jesus Christ and mean well, then you are a Christian in my book!

    • Derek,

      I’m sorry that parishioner did that to you. It was rude of him to behave like that. Not all Catholics bow at the alter, so I’m not sure why he was so forceful towards you. However, you should not have received communion since you are not Catholic. This is just one area that protestants & Catholics differ. While I am welcome to partake in communion at my husband’s church (he is Presbyterian), I do not participate because I do not believe it is the Eucharist, and it would be blasphemous for me to take it as such. This is why Catholic communion is not offered to all Christians present. You should ask yourself what you believe, and perhaps speak to a Catholic priest to get more answers.

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