Anglican vs Catholic: Difference and Comparison

Anglican and Catholic are from the same Christian roots founded by Jesus Christ 2000 years ago in Judea. They then diverged and became two different forms of Christianity.


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Key Takeaways

  1. The Anglican Church, also known as the Church of England, was established by King Henry VIII due to his disagreement with the Catholic Church.
  2. The Catholic Church, headed by the Pope, is a global religious organization with a long and complex history rooted in the apostolic tradition.
  3. Major differences between the two churches include their views on papal authority, church governance, and certain theological and liturgical practices.

Anglican vs Catholic

The difference between Anglican and Catholic is that Anglican refers to the church of England, whereas Catholic comes from the Greek word that means ‘universal’.

Anglican vs Catholic

The first form of Christianity is Catholicism. It also claims to have kept the apostolic leadership unbroken since the time of St. Peter.

The origin of the Anglican Church was during the Reformation. It was the idea of Henry VIII.

The Catholic Church originated when Christ’s apostles began preaching after his death. The Anglican Church has no central hierarchy (a system that places one church or priest above all the others).

Due to this, all the other Anglican Churches have a lot of freedom to decide on a particular policy. On the other hand, the Catholic Church have a firmly established hierarchy.

At the top, there is the pope himself, then the Cardinals, archbishops, bishops and at the lowest, the parish priests.


Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAnglicanCatholic
DefinitionAnglican refers to the church of England and all the branches related to it worldwide.Catholic refers to the Greek word which means ‘universal’.
OriginsThe Anglican Church originated during the Reformation. Also, Henry VIII was its founder.The Catholic Church originated just after the death of Christ through Christ’s apostle’s preachings.
Who came beforeIt emerged from the Catholic Church after Henry VIII broke off and formed his sect.The Catholic Church was the first form of Christianity.
LeadershipThe Anglican Church does not have a centralised hierarchy, meaning no church or priest is considered above all others.The Catholic Church has a firmly established centralised hierarchy with the Pope himself on the top and the parish priests at the lowest rung.
Beliefs and PracticesThe priests of the Anglican Church can marry.The priests, monks and nuns have to take a vow of celibacy.


What is Anglican?

Anglican refers to the church of England and all the branches related to it worldwide. Its origin is dated back to the time of Elizabeth I.

During the time of reformation, the Anglican Church was founded by Henry VIII. When Henry VIII could not secure a sanctioned divorevfron the Catholic Church, he broke off from it to form his sect.

This was when the Anglican Church was formalized. The Anglican Church does not have a central hierarchy, meaning it considers any priest or church above all the others.

This gives all the other churches and regions much freedom to decide on any specific policy. Also, the priests of the Anglican Church can marry.

Communion is only believed to be a symbolic act by the parishioners who take it. In the words of one parishioner, the mass entails a lot of smells and bells.

Recently, there has been conflict between more liberal branches of the Anglican Church on wanting to include gays and lesbians as clergy members and conservation branches. This has led the Anglican Church in danger of an irrevocable split.

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What is Catholic?

Catholic refers to the Greek word which means ‘universal’. It is the first form of Christianity and claims to have kept an unbroken apostolic leadership since St. Peter’s time.

The Catholic Church originated just after the death of Christ through the preachings of Christ’s apostles. Catholicism was made the official religion of the Empire of Rome in the 4th century AD.

The Catholic Church has a firmly established centralised hierarchy. The Pope takes its top, and then the Cardinals, archbishops, bishops and lastly, at the lowest, the parish priests.

The Pope is thought to be a successor of the apostle Peter and is chosen by the Cardinals. The priests at the Catholic Church, along with the monks and nuns, must take a vow of celibacy.

Communion is believed to be related to the miracle of transubstantiation. The use of incense and bell ringing is liberal in the mass.

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Main Differences Between Anglican and Catholic

  1. Anglican refers to the church of England and all the branches related to it worldwide, whereas Catholic refers to the Greek word which means ‘universal’.
  2. The Anglican Church originated during the Reformation or during the Elizabeth I time. Henry VIII was its founder, while the Catholic Church originated just after the death of Christ through Christ’s apostles’ preachings.
  3. The Catholic Church was the first form of Christianity, whereas the Anglican Church emerged from the Catholic Church after Henry VIII broke off and formed his sect.
  4. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church does not have a central hierarchy.
  5. The priest of the Anglican Church can marry, whereas the priests, nuns and monks of the Catholic Church cannot marry and must vow celibacy.

Doctrine and Beliefs


In the Anglican Church, the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper, is considered a sacrament representing Christ’s body and blood. While they believe in Jesus’s real presence in the Eucharist, they do not accept the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, which teaches that the bread and wine are literally changed into the body and blood of Christ.

Instead, Anglicans often have a more flexible understanding, with some holding to a more symbolic presence and others embracing the concept of consubstantiation, where the physical elements retain their nature, but Christ is also truly present.

Virgin Mary

Catholics and Anglicans revere the Virgin Mary, but their beliefs and practices involving her differ significantly. In Catholicism, Mary is venerated as the Mother of God and is believed to have been conceived without original sin (Immaculate Conception) and assumed into heaven (Assumption). Catholics may also pray to Mary, asking for her intercession.

In contrast, Anglicans respect Mary as the mother of Jesus but do not usually pray to her or hold dogmatic beliefs about the Immaculate Conception and Assumption. Additionally, Anglicans typically do not support the concept of Mary as a mediator between humanity and Jesus.

Pope’s Authority

A fundamental difference between Anglicanism and Catholicism lies in their views on the authority of the Pope. In the Catholic Church, the Pope is considered the Vicar of Christ and the leader of the worldwide Church, holding supreme authority over matters of faith and doctrine.

This authority extends through the hierarchy of cardinals, bishops, and priests. Anglicans, however, do not recognize the Pope’s authority over their Church, with national churches being governed by their respective archbishops and bishops. This decentralized structure has led to greater autonomy and diversity of beliefs within the Anglican communion.

Clergy and Leadership


In the Catholic Church, the priesthood is strictly hierarchical, with the Pope as the head of the church, followed by cardinals, bishops, and priests. Catholic priests are ordained according to the sacrament of Holy Orders and must vow celibacy. In contrast, the Anglican Church has a more flexible hierarchical structure, where priests can be married, and women can also be ordained as priests.

In both churches, the role of the priest is to administer the sacraments, celebrate Mass or Holy Communion, and provide spiritual guidance to their congregations.

Episcopal Structure

The episcopal structure of the Catholic Church is well-defined and centralized. It includes the Pope at the top, with the College of Cardinals as his close advisors. Bishops oversee dioceses and are responsible for appointing priests to local parishes. The Anglican Church, on the other hand, does not have a central authority figure like the Pope.

Instead, it comprises a communion of churches, which their respective bishops or archbishops lead. While they share the same basic episcopal structure as the Catholic Church, the authority and autonomy of individual Anglican bishops differ based on the cultural and historical context of the specific Anglican branch.

Overall, the key differences in clergy and leadership between Anglicanism and Catholicism lie in the hierarchy, centralization, and the roles of the clergy. As you familiarize yourself with both churches, note how these differences impact each tradition’s religious practices and governance.

Practices and Rituals

This section will explore the practices and rituals that distinguish Anglicanism and Catholicism.


In both Anglican and Catholic churches, prayer is essential to worship. While both traditions use standard prayers, such as the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary, they may differ in their emphasis on specific types of prayers. For instance, Catholics often emphasise praying the Rosary, while Anglicans may focus more on personal and extemporaneous prayers.


In both traditions, baptism is considered a sacrament vital for spiritual initiation and salvation. However, there are slight differences in practice. Anglicans generally use a more flexible approach to baptismal liturgy, whereas Catholics follow a more standardized form. Both traditions use water and the Trinitarian formula (in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to perform the baptism.


Anglican and Catholic churches view confirmation as a sacrament that strengthens a person’s faith and bestows the Holy Spirit’s gifts. In Catholicism, confirmation often occurs in early adolescence and is performed by a bishop. In Anglicanism, the age of confirmation varies, and it can be performed by either a bishop or a qualified priest. While the ceremony’s structure is similar, there might be differences in specific prayers and rituals.


Marriage is an important sacrament in both Anglicanism and Catholicism. In both traditions, it is a lifelong commitment and should be entered into with serious intent. The marriage ceremony can vary between the two traditions, with Anglicans potentially allowing for a more flexible liturgy. In addition, the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce, while the Anglican Church allows for remarriage in some circumstances.

Global Influence

As an English speaker, you might be interested in the global influence of Anglicanism and Catholicism. Christianity has experienced significant growth in the past century, with the number of Christians worldwide increasing from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. However, it’s worth noting that the global population has also risen rapidly during this time.

Anglicanism has its roots in the Church of England and is most prominently observed in the United Kingdom and other countries that were part of the British Empire. The Anglican Communion, a global family of churches in over 165 countries, has around 85 million members. One key characteristic of Anglicanism is its decentralized structure, with no single leader, as opposed to the hierarchical structure found in Catholicism.

On the other hand, Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination in the world, with over 1.3 billion members. As the head of the Catholic Church, the Pope holds ultimate authority on matters of faith and morals. Catholicism’s global reach extends to various continents, with high concentrations of Catholics in Europe, Latin America, North America, and parts of Africa and Asia.

Regarding relations between the Anglican and Catholic churches, there have been moments of tension and collaboration throughout history. Some Anglicans have sought reconciliation with the Catholic Church, while others have maintained their traditions and beliefs. Efforts towards reunification have emerged, especially after the Second Vatican Council in the 20th century.

As a follower of the Anglican or Catholic tradition, you are part of a rich religious and cultural history spanning the globe. Your denomination influences how you practice your faith and interpret certain teachings; however, at the core, both traditions belong to the broader family of Christianity and share many common beliefs and values.

Notable Differences

As you explore Anglicanism and Catholicism, you will notice several key differences between these two branches of Christianity. One of the most notable differences is their history and origins. Catholicism is the oldest Christian denomination, dating back to the first century AD. In contrast, Anglicanism originated in England in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation.

The recognition of leadership is another important distinction. Catholics follow a centralized authority with the Pope as the supreme leader, while Anglicans belong to a “communion” of churches without a central governing body. Each Anglican church operates autonomously, often guided by a bishop or local leader.

Regarding doctrine, Anglicanism does not accept the books of the Apocrypha as inspired, whereas Catholicism does. Additionally, Anglicans emphasize that righteousness before God is based only on the merit of Christ, not on personal good works. This contrasts with the Catholic belief in the importance of works and faith.

When it comes to liturgy and worship, you will find that Anglo-Catholic churches embrace a more elaborate style, incorporating aspects of both Anglican and Catholic traditions. Elements such as incense, vestments, and traditional hymns are common features in these services. However, Anglican services tend to be more flexible and varied than Catholic services.

Finally, there are differences in the approach to sacraments. Both traditions recognize the importance of sacraments in the life of the faithful, but they differ in number and interpretation. Catholics formally recognize seven sacraments, while Anglicans traditionally emphasize two primary sacraments—Baptism and Holy Communion—and consider the other five as “sacramental rites” with varying degrees of importance.

In summary, some of the most significant differences between Anglicanism and Catholicism are their history, leadership structures, doctrines, liturgical practices, and views on sacraments. By understanding these distinctions, you can better appreciate the nuances within these rich Christian traditions.


As you explore the beliefs and practices of Anglicans and Catholics, you’ll find that they share many similarities. Both traditions consider the Bible to be the inspired word of God and uphold its importance in guiding the life and teachings of the church. They also recognize the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion as crucial elements in their worship.

Regarding their organizational structures, the Anglican and Catholic churches have a hierarchical system, with bishops, priests, and deacons serving in various roles and capacities. Additionally, both churches’ liturgy and order of worship follow similar patterns, drawing from ancient Christian traditions and practices.

While theological differences exist between these Christian denominations, you’ll notice that both Anglicanism and Catholicism strongly emphasise the importance of tradition and the teachings of the early Church. This includes a respect for the authority of church councils and the writings of Church Fathers, which both denominations view as crucial in shaping their understanding of the Christian faith.

Another shared characteristic is their commitment to social justice and outreach programs. Anglicans and Catholics believe in the call to serve the poor and marginalized in society. Both denominations have a long history of engaging in charitable works and promoting social justice initiatives.

Difference Between Anglican and Catholic

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