What are the primary differences between the Roman Catholic and Episcopalian faiths?

My boyfriend and I are both Roman Catholics but are interested in the Episcopalian church. We don’t know much about the Episcopal faith, but have been told that it’s very similar to the Roman Catholic church, but more “liberal”. What are the differences in tradition, theology, and church doctrine?

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10 Comments to “What are the primary differences between the Roman Catholic and Episcopalian faiths?”

  • landayoo

    Sorry. The ten commandments are the same.

  • θραυστήρων

    Actually the Episcopalian church is just one step removed from the Catholic Church.

    It does tend to have a more “relaxed” view.

  • Gods child

    Do you not know you have the fullness of faith at your disposal. If you knew your faith you would never leave for it is of Divine origin.

  • V

    I’m not sure what the differences are, but all I can tell you is that you’re heading for the wrong road. The devil is tempting you to break away from the Catholic Church (which you should believe is the one true church that Christ founded) and join a man-made religion. True, it focuses on God and all, but I still wouldn’t do the change. If you love God, stay in Catholicism. If you’re struggling to believe in anything that the Catholic Church teaches, read the Catholic Catechism and/or talk to a Catholic priest about your problem. Protestants have a different interpretations of the Bible, Mary, etc, while the Catholics have just one translation. You don’t want to become confused while you try to read and understand different interpretations, do you? Think about this, and God bless.

  • birdinflight

    Episcopalianism is like an offshoot of Anglicanism present in whatever country you’re talking about – so it’s related to the Church of England.
    The COE is, at the moment, more liberal than the Catholic church because they are more accepting of tolerating openly gay priests, but not officially. Conservatives within the Church blame the present Archbishop, Rowan Williams of Canturbury, for this as they consider him far too liberal. They also have more women involved higher up the Church than the Catholic Church, but still don’t have women Bishops. The Church of England was really created in the 16th century, when Henry VIII decided he didn’t want to bow down to the Pope in Rome and reformed the Church. Ever since then there have been tugs and pulls by various movements within the COE wanting to either make it more ‘Protestant’ or more ‘Catholic’. The evangelicals wanted the former, the Oxford Movement, the latter in the 19th century, for example. The COE today still retains much of its Catholic heritage but they do not believe, for example, that the sacraments actually become the body and blood of Christ, they are just symbols. The COE has its Episcopal churches in America but there’s recently been a lot of tension between the two because of the inauguration of an openly gay Bishop in the American Church. This is not fully accepted by the COE but they want to preserve ‘unity’ no matter what, despite the fact that the more conservative African part of the communion do not tolerate openly homosexual priests whatsoever. So, it is a church with a fascinating history but continues to be ridden with controversy and problems because it tries to be everything to everyone, which is impossible. On the contrary, the Catholic Church has remained much more, if not entirely, consistent with its doctrine and teaching throughout history and probably will not change in the future just to suit one or two groups within it.

  • mrs_catholicportugalian

    The Episcopalians were considered the protestant Catholics because practically everything they believe is the same, but the Episcopalians don’t submit to the authority of the Pope. They also don’t have valid sacraments and they let homosexuals and women become priests and bishops. There is actually a very large group of Episcopalians who are right now seeking to rejoin the Roman Catholic church. Why switch to their faux Catholic religion when they even want to be Catholic again?

    “We declare, say , define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Pope Boniface VIII,(Unam Sanctam, 1302).

  • Stephanie G

    As some may know Catholic means universal. So the universal church is over all churches, but many may not beleive this. That’s why the Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist (even though they go on the Saturday Sabbath) and any others that you can think of have some form of Catholic ways and teachings, and more suprisingly the protestant churches. All organisational churches are now apart of the state. They don’t teach Christ, but politics and false doctrines. Most contradict the Bible and teach their own doctrines. So the differences in tradition, theology, and church doctrine are mostly the same if you observe the teachings or idols that they have in the church buildings that are similar to each other. For example, they have falsely worded the ten commandments. If you have a ten commandments chart it probably would be in Catholic form. Here is an Example of the way GOD in the Bible says the Commandments and then the way the Roman Catholics and other churches says it:

    Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17).

    1. And GOD spake all these words saying I am the Lord thy GOD, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

    2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord they God am a jealous GOD, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that keep My Commandments.

    3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord they GOD in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His nam in vain.

    4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy GOD: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

    5. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy GOD giveth thee.

    6. Thou shalt not kill.

    7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    8. Thou shalt not steal.

    9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

    Ten Commandments (As Abbreviated in Vernacular Roman Catholic Catechisms).

    1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me. (God said in the Bible Commandment “NO OTHER gods BEFORE ME.”) (The second Commandment from the Bible is missing about the graven image).

    2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. (Sentence is not complete).

    3. Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day. (Sentence is not Complete. This is actually the fourth commandment).

    4. Honor thy father and thy mother. (Sentence is not complete).

    5. Thou shalt not kill.

    6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    7. Thou shalt not steal.

    8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    9. Thou shalt not covet thy neigbor’s wife.

    10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods. (commandments 8-10 are split from verse 10 in the Bible Commandment, and “goods” is not mentioned in the Bible’s Commandment).

    They have added and deleted. They have added and deleted by having revised Bibles. The original Bible to read is the Kings James version. There is only one faith, not all these denominations. The best thing to do is to have a home church and keep all of GOD’S Commandments. It doesn’t matter if it’s just you and your family. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 (KJV). And keep the Sabbath Day Saturday. (Not with Seventh Day Adventist). The Catholic Church which is over all denominations said to keep their sabbath sunday, GOD says to keep His Sabbath Satuday. Sunday is a tradition of the world. Here is what the Bible says about doing what the world does. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with GOD? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of GOD.” James 4:4 (KJV). Sadly the Churches are apart of the world more than secular person. There will come a time soon when the state will set a law to keep sunday. Will you obey GOD or the state? This is the Catholic church’s mark. They say so themselves: “SUNDAY is our MARK of authority…the church is ABOVE THE BIBLE, and this TR

  • imacatholic2

    “What separates us as believers in Christ is much less than what unites us.” (Pope John XXIII)

    Almost all important doctrine is completely agreed upon between Catholic Christians and other Christians.

    Here is the joint declaration of justification by Catholics (1999), Lutherans (1999), and Methodists (2006):

    By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping us and calling us to good works.


    There are many minor doctrine issues and some major cultural traditional differences which, I believe, do not matter that much.

    A Catholic worships and follows Christ in the tradition of Catholicism which, among other things, recognizes that Christ made Peter the leader of His new Church and Pope Benedict XVI is Peter’s direct successor.

    For more information, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church: http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/index.shtml

    With love in Christ.

  • Apostolic Nuncio

    If you would like more answers, consider asking around this site as well…


  • cellos rock!

    You’re right in that they are very similar.

    I’m trying to find more about the differences myself but only so I can be informed. I looooove the Catholic faith and would never leave it, even for a denomination that is really similar.

    One difference I know of is that Episcopalians have open Communion. That means that anyone can receive Communion there, while the Catholic Church says you have to be Catholic to receive the Eucharist.

    That may seem mean and unfair, but it is not. First, we want to take precautions in that those receiving Communion know and have discerned what they are taking part in. 1 Corinthians 11:27 stresses the importance of this. Second, for Catholics the Eucharist is what unifies the Church. If you are not in communion with the Church then you cannot receive the Eucharist. This is why if you are in a state of mortal sin you cannot receive Communion. (However, everyone can go receive a blessing from the priest.).

    Another difference is that it is a tradition (not a dogma though) in the Roman Catholic Church to have celibate priests. Episcopalians priests can be married and even have families. Note that Episcopalian priests (as well as in other denominations) who have families can become priests in the Catholic Church, though they must be ordained Catholic, etc. There’s a process for it. This is why even in the United States there are about 100 married Catholic priests, a number I took from http://www.catholicdoors.com/faq/qu143.htm. Also, women can become Episcopal priests.

    I’ve been to an Episopalian service before and it was so much like the Catholic Mass that is was uncanny.

    One reason I would never convert is that the Catholic church is the original church. Our pope is a successor of Peter, whom Jesus gave authority to. We have Scriptures AND a very rich Tradition that goes back to the very beginning of Christianity. Apostolic succession! :D. Catholicism is so beautiful; why would you want to leave? 2000 years of thinkers behind you. Have a question? Find the answer!

    I encourage you to really dig into your Catholic faith. The Knights of Columbus have many resources available from their website under “publications and resources”. Scott Hahn has many books and CDs that are fantastic. And if you don’t already have a Catholic Catechism, be sure to get ahold of one.

    Note: I’m not putting down any of my Protestant brothers and sisters, whom have very good things in their beliefs.

    In attempt to find some answers, I went to http://www.goodshepherdkingwood.org/whatis.htm, but it wasn’t very helpful. Be careful. Reading that page I actually found some errors, or at least misleading words. For example, they make it sound like the Episcopal Church is part of apostolic succession, but it does not have that continual line like the Catholic Church does. It’s very misleading. Also, the author makes a statement that presents the history of the Church and Henry VIII in a misleading way, so watch out. I wouldn’t recommend that site at all.

    P.S. Stephanie G, what sources did you use?? Check for faulty resources… Also, I don’t think you answered the question at all. But I appreciate your effort:).

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