Difference between Anglican and Catholic


Anglicanism and Catholicism are two prominent religion, each weaving its own rich narrative of faith, tradition and theological conviction. More generally they can be called Anglicanism and Catholicism.

The word Catholic comes from the Greek word “katholikos” which means Universal. It’s the first form of Christianity, which was originated when Christ apostles started preaching after his death on the cross. It has maintained the apostolic succession till date. Catholicism was made the official religion in Rome and the council of Nicene organized the Catholic beliefs.

Anglican means church of England. It was founded by King Henry VIII during the reformation. He broke off from Roman Catholic church and founded his own church because of a dispute between him and the Pope concerning his request to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon. He couldn’t secure a sanctioned divorce from the Catholic Church.

While both traditions trace their origins to the early Christian Church and share fundamental beliefs in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, they have evolved along different trajectories, shaped by historical events, theological interpretations, and ecclesiastical structures. Well, let us look at how the two differs, from questions of authority and doctrine to matters of liturgy and sacraments etc.

Anglican Archbishop

Key Differences


  • Catholicism holds the Pope, based in Rome, as the supreme authority in matters of faith and doctrine. The Pope is considered the successor of Saint Peter and the Vicar of Christ on Earth.
  • Anglicans believe in a shared authority among bishops, with no single bishop having universal jurisdiction.


  • Catholicism has a highly centralized hierarchical structure, with bishops appointed by the Pope and ultimate authority resting in the Vatican.
  • Anglicanism has a more decentralized structure, with individual provinces led by bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury is considered a primus inter pares (first among equals) rather than having universal jurisdiction.


  • Catholicism holds to a number of specific doctrinal beliefs, including the doctrines of transubstantiation (the belief that the bread and wine in the Eucharist become the actual body and blood of Christ), papal infallibility, and the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
  • While Anglicanism it shares many theological beliefs with Catholicism, such as the importance of sacraments and apostolic succession, it allows for more diversity in interpretation and practice.


  • Both Catholicism and Anglicanism recognize seven sacraments, but there are differences in how they are understood and celebrated. For example, in Catholicism, the doctrine of transubstantiation is central to the Eucharist, whereas in Anglicanism, there is a range of beliefs about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Liturgical Practices

  • Both traditions have rich liturgical practices, but there are differences in the details of worship. Catholic liturgy tends to be more uniform and centralized, while Anglican liturgy can vary widely from one parish to another, ranging from very traditional to more contemporary styles.

Marriage and Clergy

  • Catholic priests are required to remain celibate, whereas Anglican priests can marry. Anglicans allow the ordination of women as priests and bishops, while the Catholic Church maintains an all-male clergy.

Reformation Origins

  • Catholicism traces its origins back to the early Christian Church, with the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) eventually becoming the central figure.
  • Anglicanism originated as a result of the English Reformation in the 16th century when King Henry VIII broke from the authority of the Pope and established the Church of England.


  • Catholicism holds doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception (Mary’s conception without original sin) and the Assumption of Mary (her bodily assumption into heaven).
  • Anglicanism generally has less emphasis on Mary and fewer defined dogmas about her.

Papal Infallibility

  • Catholics believe in papal infallibility, the doctrine that the Pope is preserved from error when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals.
  • Anglicans do not accept papal infallibility.

View on Original Sin

  • While both traditions believe in original sin, there may be differences in interpretation and emphasis.

Soteriology (doctrine of salvation)

  • While both believe in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, there may be differences in emphasis on grace, works, and the role of sacraments in achieving salvation.

Scriptural Authority

  • Catholicism upholds both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition as sources of authority.
  • Anglicanism also considers tradition, reason, and experience alongside Scripture, though the primacy of Scripture is emphasized.

View on Saints and Intercession

  • Catholicism venerates saints and seeks their intercession in prayer.
  • Anglicanism also venerates saints, but there may be less emphasis on their intercessory role in prayer.

Key Takeaways

The Anglican Church traces its origins back to the English Reformation in the 16th century, when King Henry VIII broke away from the authority of the Pope and established the Church of England. It continues to have close ties with the British monarchy and is known for its broad theological spectrum.

The Catholic Church can trace its roots back to the time of Jesus Christ and the Apostles. It views itself as the continuation of the early Christian community and believes in the authority of the Pope as the successor of Saint Peter.

Differences in Tabular Form

FounderEmerged from the Church of England during the Protestant Reformation, with Henry VIII declaring himself the head of the Church in EnglandFounded by Jesus Christ, with Peter being recognized as the first Pope
LeadershipEpiscopal polity; led by bishops, with no central authority like the PopeHierarchical polity; led by the Pope, who is considered the spiritual leader and head of the Church
AuthorityPrimarily based on the Bible, with tradition and reason also playing significant rolesBased on the Bible, sacred tradition, and the Magisterium (teaching authority of the Church)
SacramentsGenerally recognizes two sacraments, Baptism and Holy Communion (Eucharist), along with five additional sacraments considered as “lesser”Recognizes seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation (Confession), Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony
Eucharistic BeliefsVaried; ranges from symbolic memorial to real presence of Christ, depending on individual beliefs within AnglicanismBelieve in the doctrine of Transubstantiation, where the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ
Marian DoctrineViews on Mary vary; some Anglicans hold Marian doctrines while others do notEmphasizes Marian doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary
Clerical CelibacyNot mandatory; clergy may marryMandatory for most clergy members to remain celibate, with exceptions in some cases (e.g., married Anglican priests converting to Catholicism)
Church HierarchyBishops, priests, and deacons are present, with differences in structure and organization among Anglican provincesBishops, priests, and deacons are present, with a clear hierarchical structure and centralized authority under the Pope
Liturgy and WorshipVaried; ranges from traditional to contemporary forms of worship, with differences in liturgical practices among Anglican provincesFollows a standardized liturgy and ritual, with variations in certain aspects depending on cultural and regional differences