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Episcopalian vs. Catholic: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 13, 2024
Episcopalians are part of the Anglican Communion, emphasizing autonomy and progressive views, while Catholics adhere to the Roman Catholic Church, guided by the Pope and traditional doctrines.
Episcopalian vs. Catholic

Key Differences

Episcopalianism is a branch of Anglicanism primarily found in the United States. It is known for its relatively progressive stances and a decentralized ecclesiastical structure. Catholicism, on the other hand, is a global Christian denomination, with a deeply rooted hierarchy led by the Pope, emphasizing tradition and continuity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 13, 2024
In Episcopalian belief, bishops have significant autonomy, and the church tends to be more liberal on social issues like LGBTQ rights and women's ordination. In contrast, the Catholic Church maintains a strict hierarchical structure, with the Pope at its head, and traditionally conservative views on these issues.
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Liturgically, Episcopalians have services similar to Catholics, but with more flexibility in interpretation and practice. Catholic worship, however, follows a more uniform and globally consistent liturgy, rooted in centuries of tradition.
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Episcopalian theology can be diverse, often incorporating modern interpretations of scripture and doctrine. In contrast, Catholic doctrine is closely aligned with long-standing teachings, guided by the Magisterium (the Church's teaching authority).
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Regarding authority, Episcopalians give significant weight to individual conscience and reason in interpreting faith, whereas Catholics emphasize the role of the Church's magisterial teachings and the Pope's infallibility on matters of doctrine.
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Comparison Chart

Leadership Structure

Decentralized, with autonomous bishops
Centralized, led by the Pope
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Social Views

Generally liberal (e.g., supporting LGBTQ rights)
Generally conservative
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Liturgy

Flexible and open to interpretation
Uniform and traditional
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Theological Approach

Emphasizes individual interpretation
Guided by longstanding teachings
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Authority on Doctrine

Individual conscience and reason
Magisterial teachings and Papal infallibility
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Geographical Prevalence

Predominantly in the USA
Worldwide
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Episcopalian and Catholic Definitions

Episcopalian

Reflecting a tradition rooted in Anglicanism yet distinct in its American context.
Episcopalian heritage is celebrated during church anniversaries.
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Catholic

A member of the Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of the Pope.
She regularly attends mass at her local Catholic parish.
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Episcopalian

Symbolizing a moderate to liberal approach to Christian doctrine.
His Episcopalian beliefs led him to advocate for social justice issues.
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Catholic

Pertaining to the universal Christian church, as understood in Roman Catholicism.
The Catholic doctrine emphasizes the sacraments' importance.
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Episcopalian

Pertaining to the Episcopal Church's governance by bishops.
The Episcopalian structure allows for more autonomy at the diocesan level.
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Catholic

Characterized by adherence to the teachings and authority of the Pope.
Catholic schools often incorporate papal encyclicals in their curriculum.
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Episcopalian

A member of the Episcopal Church, an Anglican denomination in the United States.
She became an Episcopalian after moving to New York.
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Catholic

Reflecting the traditions and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
Catholic rituals like the rosary are a significant part of their spiritual life.
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Episcopalian

Characterized by a blend of liturgical worship and progressive social stances.
Their Episcopalian community was known for inclusive services.
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Catholic

Symbolizing a broad, inclusive approach to Christianity, as in 'catholic' with a small 'c'.
His catholic taste in music includes genres from classical to modern pop.
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Episcopalian

Of, relating to, or belonging to the Episcopal Church.
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Catholic

Of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive
"The 100-odd pages of formulas and constants are surely the most catholic to be found" (Scientific American).
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Episcopalian

Episcopalian Of or advocating church government by bishops.
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Catholic

Including or concerning all humankind; universal
"what was of catholic rather than national interest" (J.A. Froude).
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Episcopalian

Episcopal, pertaining to a bishop of any church
A bishop is entitled to certain episcopalian privileges.
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Catholic

Of or involving the Roman Catholic Church.
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Episcopalian

Episcopalian
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Catholic

Of or relating to the universal Christian church.
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Episcopalian

Episcopalian
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Catholic

Of or relating to the ancient undivided Christian church.
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Episcopalian

Pertaining to bishops, or government by bishops; episcopal; specifically, of or relating to the Protestant Episcopal Church.
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Catholic

Of or relating to those churches that have claimed to be representatives of the ancient undivided church.
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Episcopalian

One who belongs to an episcopal church, or adheres to the episcopal form of church government and discipline; a churchman; specifically, in the United States, a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
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Catholic

A member of a Catholic church, especially a Roman Catholic.
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Episcopalian

A member of the Episcopal church
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Catholic

Universal; all-encompassing.
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Episcopalian

Of or pertaining to or characteristic of the Episcopal church;
The Episcopal hierarachy
Married by an Episcopalian minister
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Catholic

Alternative case form of Catholic.
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Catholic

(obsolete) Common or prevalent; especially universally prevalent.
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Catholic

Embracing all.
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Catholic

Universally applicable.
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Catholic

Of universal human interest or use.
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Catholic

(slang) Permissive of unprotected sex.
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Catholic

Universal or general; as, the catholic faith.
Men of other countries [came] to bear their part in so great and catholic a war.
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Catholic

Not narrow-minded, partial, or bigoted; liberal; as, catholic tastes.
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Catholic

Of or pertaining to, or affecting the Roman Catholics; as, the Catholic emancipation act.
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Catholic

A person who accepts the creeds which are received in common by all parts of the orthodox Christian church.
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Catholic

An adherent of the Roman Catholic church; a Roman Catholic.
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Catholic

A member of a Catholic church
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Catholic

Of or relating to or supporting Catholicism;
The Catholic Church
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Catholic

Free from provincial prejudices or attachments;
Catholic in one's tastes
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Who leads the Catholic Church?

The Pope, currently based in Vatican City, is the head of the Catholic Church.
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Do Episcopalians have a Pope?

No, the Episcopal Church is governed by bishops and does not have a central figure like the Pope.
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Can women become priests in the Episcopalian Church?

Yes, the Episcopal Church ordains women as priests.
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What is the Episcopalian Church?

It's a Christian denomination in the Anglican tradition, primarily found in the United States.
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Do Episcopalians believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist?

Many Episcopalians believe in a spiritual form of the Real Presence.
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What is the Catholic approach to the Bible?

Catholics view the Bible as a sacred text, interpreted within the Church's teachings.
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What are the key differences in worship between Episcopalians and Catholics?

Episcopalians have more flexible liturgies, while Catholics follow a more uniform and traditional liturgy.
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What is the Catholic Church's stance on women's ordination?

The Catholic Church does not ordain women as priests.
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What is the Catholic belief about the Eucharist?

Catholics believe in Transubstantiation, where bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ.
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How do Episcopalians view salvation?

Episcopalians often emphasize God's grace and individual faith in salvation.
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Do Catholics pray to saints?

Yes, Catholics often seek the intercession of saints.
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How does the Catholic Church view LGBTQ issues?

The Catholic Church maintains a traditional view, not supporting same-sex marriage.
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How do Episcopalians view the Bible?

Episcopalians see the Bible as a fundamental part of their faith, interpreted through reason and tradition.
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What is the Episcopalian stance on LGBTQ rights?

The Episcopal Church is generally supportive of LGBTQ rights, including marriage equality.
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What role do bishops play in the Episcopalian Church?

Bishops govern dioceses and have significant autonomy in the Episcopal Church.
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What is the significance of confession in Catholicism?

Confession is a key sacrament in Catholicism for forgiveness of sins.
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What is the Catholic view on salvation?

Catholics believe salvation comes through faith, good works, and the sacraments.
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Can Episcopalians pray to saints?

While not as common as in Catholicism, some Episcopalians may venerate saints.
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Do Episcopalians have confession?

Confession exists in the Episcopal Church but is not as central as in Catholicism.
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What is the role of a bishop in the Catholic Church?

Catholic bishops oversee dioceses but are ultimately under the authority of the Pope.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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