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What is the difference between an Episcopalian church and a Catholic church ?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I pas by one 2 days a week, and I always wonder about it. Can anyone here tell me ? Thanks !
post #2 of 25
I'm sure someone can elaborate but simply - the Catholic church is the Roman Catholic church and the Episcopalian church you are passing is the American name for the Anglican Church. In, Canada, for instance, what an American calls an Episcopalian church, we call an Anglican church.

Or, did you mean, what are the dogmatic differences between the Roman Catholic religion and the Anglican religion? That's a more complicated question and I'm not able to provide that answer!
post #3 of 25
My friend, who was raised Catholic, calls Episcopalian "Catholic Lite."

I'm not sure of all the details, but apparently they use a lot of the same rituals and such as the Catholic church, but they are more liberal as in they allow women clergy and stuff.
post #4 of 25


The Anglican (what Americans call Episcopalian) is the Church of England and here is some information. There is also a good site discussing the history of the American Episcopalian movement. I've neither RC nor Anglican but I know some of my Anglican friends sometimes get riled at the comparison that they are simply "Catholic lite". There are similiarities and differences as well. There is substantial history of the churches - lots of historical information at the library and online.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the links and replies. I knew it was similar to Cathololic, just not sure how. I had forgotten about the Anglican side as well !
post #6 of 25
There are several differences. I'm Episcopalian. Most of the differences have to do with the Pope. There are many things in Catholic theology that come from Papal doctrine or decree. Since we don't recognize the Pope, we don't believe most of those things.

For instance, Catholics believe that the immaculate conception refers to Mary, that her mother conceived without sex so that Mary would be free from original sin. We don't believe that. Episcopalians also allow birth control, priests can marry and women can be priests.

We are not governed in the strict hierarchy the Catholics have. Priests (who oversee parishes) report to Bishops and there is a head Bishop for each country or province. The Archbishop of Canterbury is seen as the head of the Anglican communion, however he has no direct authority over the various provinces. And at least in the US, all major national policies or changes are decided in a convention every 3 years that is made up of all the bishops and some clergy and lay representatitves from each diocese. In other words, it is much more democratic than the Catholic church and the people in the pews have a direct voice in policy.

Our service and the theology surrounding our worship is very close to the Catholic service, especially since Vatican II and the Book of Common Prayer revision in 1978. Catholic service music is often more contemporary though.

Catholic lite doesn't do the differences justice. It is true that some former Catholics looking for a more liberal atmosphere come to the Episcopal church. But I also know Episcopalians who make the Catholic church look like the "lite" version.
post #7 of 25
The Episcopalian Church can be likened to an "Orthodox" Church, not that they espouse Eastern liturgy, but because they are a denomination that was once part of a single "catholic" church, but that broke away, keeping mch of the same liturgy and theology but holding a different and local authority structure.
post #8 of 25
Originally Posted by KoalaMommy
For instance, Catholics believe that the immaculate conception refers to Mary, that her mother conceived without sex so that Mary would be free from original sin. We don't believe that. .
Just a quick correction: Catholics don't believe that Mary, Mother of God was conceived without sex; the Immaculate Conception is that she was conceived without sin.

See here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm

"In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

I'm no scholar, so if I've gotten it wrong, I am completely willing to stand corrected.
post #9 of 25
Okay, I stand corrected. Most of the rest of the Chrsitian world believes the immaculate conception to be that of Jesus by the Virgin Mary, hence without sex. My point though still stands that the Papal doctrine is held by Catholics but not Episcopalians (or any other denomination) and here is a quote on the immaculate conception (of Mary) from the Catholic encyclopedia that sums up why pretty well
No direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from Scripture
also, Unagidon, I would not be willing to group us (Episcopalians) with the Othodox traditions for the reason you give. The Orthodox churches would argue that Rome split from them. At the time of the Orthodox/Catholic split there were 2 popes 1 in Rome and 1 in Constantinople, who the true pope was depends on who is making the argument. Also, the Catholic church recognizes an Orthodox baptism and allows Orthodox Christians to take communion but the Orthodox church does not recognize the Catholic sacraments, so there is a very compelling argument to be made about who actually split from whom... However in the Anglican church it is very clear that we split from Rome and no Anglican has tried to argue that the Archbishop of Canterbury is actually the rightful Pope.
post #10 of 25
KM: I agree re: folks' common misconceptions. Thanks so much for taking a stab at the answer! I started to try and got overwhelmed....still thinking about it.

I've looked into this because I'm a lesbian Catholic raising a really sensitive dd, so struggling to balance the many obligations and needs....
post #11 of 25
Yes, we Catholics are very touchy about Mary! We do believe that she descended from the House of David and was born without original sin: The Immaculate Conception.

Many Catholics do refer to Lutherans, Anglicans, and Episcopalians as "Catholic Lite." We don't mean it as a put-down at all. When preparing to visit my husband's family in the southern US, I told my priest that I was worried I may not find a Catholic church anywhere near where we were staying. He told me not to worry: "Go to a Lutheran church. It's like doing Catholicism lite." (My immediate family and church community are pretty light-hearted Catholics. Most parishoners wear jeans, etc.)

During our visit down South, one of DH's cousins (a Southern Baptist, I believe) actually snatched away her daughter I was holding when it came up in conversation that I was Catholic! I thought it was kinda funny. As if a bit of my Catholic-ness would rub off on her daughter! I just laughed it off and made a few jokes about Catholicism (to lighten the mood), and the more the rest of the family and I laughed, the more pi$$ed off she became!
post #12 of 25
KM: I agree re: folks' common misconceptions. Thanks so much for taking a stab at the answer! I started to try and got overwhelmed....still thinking about it.

I'm such a loudmouth , I deserve to be corrected once in a while! :LOL
post #13 of 25
The difference between the Anglican an the Roman CAtholic church goes back to Henry VIII.

The Anglican Church allows divorce, which is what Henry was after, and I believe the priests can marry and women have more of a prominence in the clergy.

As I understand it, the Roman Church recognizes Anglican baptisms now ... since Vatican II.
post #14 of 25
I thought all Christian churches which practiced infant baptism recognised each other's baptism.

Despite its history with Henry VIII, not all parts of the Anglican communion are OK with divorce and remarriage. Prince Charles recently married a divorcee and they had to marry in a civil ceremony. His sister, Princess Anne came up to Scotland and got married in the Church of Scotland (Presbytarian) when she wanted to re-marry.

There have only been women priests in the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal church for around ten years. It is still pretty controversial in some quarters, although, strangely, not as divisive as homosexual bishops. There have been women priests in other provinces of the Anglican Communion for a lot longer.

Oh, and yes, Anglican/Episcopalian priests can marry.
post #15 of 25
Thank you Catarina for the clarification.

As for baptism, my mom was baptised by her father in the Catholic Church and her mom baptized her in the Episcopal Church in Boston in the 1930's; when my mom was an adult during Vatican II in the early 1960's, the Catholic Church decided to recognize Episcopal baptisms.

So, all's well that ends well.
post #16 of 25
okay, first of all, the Anglican/Episcopal church as it exists today has very little to do with Henry the VIII and his desire for a divorce/annulment. Henry did split from Rome (and establish his own church rather than affiliate with a group that recognized divorce or something), but the church went back to Rome briefly while is daughter, Mary Tudor, who was Catholic, held the Throne. Truly, it was Elizabeth, who was a protestant, who made the split that formed the church as it exists today. It just doesn't cause the same historical stir as her father's split since it had already been done once.

Actually I believe that the Anglican church in England does not technically permit re-marriage after divorce, hence the problem with Prince Charles and Camilla.

Also, some churches who baptize infants will recognize another infant baptism, some won't. The Catholic church is unlikely to recognize a Presbyterian baptism for instance. The Greek Orthodox won't rcognize the Cathlic baptism etc. It has very little to do with the age of the baptismal candidate and a lot to do with how things are done and by whom.

post #17 of 25
Originally Posted by applejuice
women have more of a prominence in the clergy.
We have a woman rector and a gay bishop.
post #18 of 25
Actually, Mary did concieve without sex (I'm Catholic, FYI) Here's a link:

The angel to remove Mary's anxiety and to assure her that her virginity would be spared, answered: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." In token of the truth of his word he made known to her the conception of St. John, the miraculous pregnancy of her relative now old and sterile: "And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth; she also has conceived a son in herold age, and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God." Mary may not yet have fully understood the meaning of the heavenly message and how the maternity might be reconciled with her vow of virginity, but clinging to the first words of the angel and trusting to the Omnipotence of God she said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word."


That was in the explination of the Annunciation (when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would concieve)

It's even in our Creed. Jesus Christ ".....was born of the Virgin Mary" is part of what we say at every Mass. So it's believed by every Catholic that adheres to the Church's teachings.

And the difference between the Anglican/Episcopalians and Catholics is mainly fidelity to the Pope. Different doctrinal issues have come up since the split, but the original issue was the Pope's authority.

God Bless.
post #19 of 25
Oh, I just read that other post again, and yes, Mary's MOM had sex to concieve her, but Mary didn't have sex to concieve Jesus. She was just preserved from Original Sin (something we believe everybody has at the moment of conception, from Adam and Eve's 1st, or original, sin)

So much for my explanitory link, huh? :LOL
post #20 of 25
All I know is my uncle, being gay and feeling a little excluded by the Catholic Church, became an Episapalian or Anglican (don't know which, you can find either one in America) Anyway, he said it's just like going to Mass and you'd never know you weren't in a Catholic church.
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