Difference between Anglican and Catholic

The notion of communion between the Catholic and Anglican churches has been around since the Second Vatican Council. The two major points discussed at the Council were the future interchangeability of the Sacraments and ministers between the two Churches. However, there are substantial differences between the two, and we will discuss them in the following article.


Anglican vs Catholic
St Luke’s Anglican Church in Oamaru, New Zealand

Anglicanism refers to tradition that joins the Church of England and also the churches that are connected to it or share similar beliefs. There is the Anglican Communion that comprises members of most of the Anglican Churches worldwide. As a worldwide family of churches, the Anglican Communion has more than 70 million adherents in 38 Provinces spreading across 161 countries. The beliefs and teachings of Anglicanism can be defined as somewhat between rigid Roman Catholic tradition and radical Protestant movement. The authorities of Anglican churches often refer to the Church as being a successor of the early Christian tradition. Anglicans use the book called the Book of Common Prayer in their church services . The title of the book refers to its usage in any church in England, regardless of the specifics of the local liturgy, since the book was published in the 16th century.

Anglicans are distinguished for the latitude of the movement. Some Anglican priests model their liturgies on medieval English tradition, some are mystics, some practice preaching in the tradition of Evangelism, some are concerned with social matters and policies, while yet other share beliefs that are close to those of the members of the Pentecostal movement. Every national Anglican Church definitely conforms to the tradition and culture of its country.

The Pope Benedict XVI being presented with his papal tiara

Among the Christian Churches, the official Roman Catholic Church is the biggest. There is estimated to be 1.25 billion members of the Catholic Church in the world today. The Catholic Church is one of the oldest religious institutions in the world. It is also well-established and is distinguished by stating that the Roman Catholic Church is the only Church founded by Jesus Christ. The head bishop of the Roman Catholic Church is the Pope, and the Church claims that the Pope is the direct successor of Saint Peter. There are a variety of denominations of the Catholic Church, but the core doctrine of the Church is the same throughout all of them. The doctrine is surmised in The Nicene Creed – the profession of Faith that is used in liturgy. The Catholic Church is both famous and infamous for viewing its doctrine as morally infallible, decisive and exhaustive. The current pope is Francis. He was elected in 2013. The papacy, a head office of the pope, is situated in the Vatican, a sovereign city-state in Rome. A pope is not only the head of the Catholic Church, but also the head of the City-state of the Vatican.

Comparison chart

Anglican Catholic
The Anglican Archbishop is not an ultimate authority The role of the Pope in the Church is crucial
Allow intercommunion with members of other denominations Do not traditionally allow intercommunion with members of other denominations (this is changing currently)
The Anglican Church is characterized by desire to reform the Church The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t traditionally want any reforms (this is changing currently)
Allow ordination of women as bishops and priests Don’t allow ordination of women as bishop and priests

Anglican vs Catholic

What is the difference between Anglican and Catholic?

  • The Anglican community sees the religious community authority in a special way, which spreads from the edges to the center. This means that for Anglicans the power and authority of the Archbishop must be dispersed in order for the Christian community to have healthier regulations. The Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, since the time of its foundation, has promoted and increased the role of the Pope. In our age of widespread media, the position of the Pope and his office is as steady and authoritative as ever. The bishops of the Catholic Pope, when they preach in other countries, act more like the managers of the Pope, than on their own as they were supposed to do, being devoted supporters of the local Catholic communities. St. Augustine once wrote Roma locuta causa finita est (Rome has spoken and that settles the matter) and this sounds topical today.
  • The Anglican Church is open for intercommunion – the uniting bond of Christians of all denominations. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, are against intercommunion because the membership in the Roman Catholic Church is tied to the person of the current Pope. Catholics are in communion with their pope, while Anglicans view the Faith as inherited from the earliest Christians, and that makes them more open.
  • One of the crucial tendencies of the Anglican Church was a tendency to restore the faith of the early Christian Church. Anglicans are famous for being consecutive seekers of reformation of  Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, is rather counter-reformation, as the authorities of the Catholic Church adhere to the mediaeval concept of the authority of the Pope.
  • The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t allow ordination of women as bishop and priests. On the other hand, some churches among the Anglican sub-branches allow this. Women bishops were among the members of the 1998 Anglican Lambeth Conference. There are nuances, though. The Church of England, for example, allows the ordination of women to the diaconate and to the priesthood, but not to the episcopate. Some Anglican Churches do not allow women to be ordained at all.