What Is The Difference Between Catholic And Episcopal?

The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican communion. Almost all members of the church are in the United States. 

The Episcopal Church is best known for their support of liberal causes including LGBTQ equality, same sex marriages, repeal of the dealth penalty, and racial reconciliation. 

Sometimes, the church’s actions have gone against the Anglican Church doctrine, resulting in internal friction and even sanctions from the Anglican leadership. Read on to learn more about the difference between Catholic and Episcopal.

How Is Episcopalian Similar to Catholicism?

How Is Episcopalian Similar To Catholicism

Episcopalians and Catholics have several similarities. They believe in the Holy Trinity, the virgin birth, and the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. 

Similar to Catholics, most Episcopalian churches also use rosaries, crosses, statues, and other symbols of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and various saints

Both Episcopalians and Catholics believe in the second coming of Christ and in heaven as the eternal home of believers. 

Both also believe in the importance of baptism, stating that it is the first step of salvation. 

They also share certain sacraments such as the Eucharist, marriage (or Holy Matrimony), and confession.  

These similarities make it seem like Episcopal and Catholic churches are essential one. But, as we discuss shortly, there are major doctrine differences between the two. 

In fact, the Episcopal Church describes itself as ‘Protestant, yet Catholic’, which gives you an idea of how similar yet different the two churches are. 

How Are Episcopal and Catholic Churches Different? 

LGBTQ and Same-Sex Marriages

If you are a keen follower of religious news, you probably know that the Episcopal Church supports the LGBTQ community, and even ordains gay clergy. 

In a major split from the Catholic Church (and the parent Anglican Church), the Episcopal Church in 2015 approved blessing of same-sex marriages. It even removed references to marriage as being ‘between a man and a woman’ in their canon law. 

Currently, the Catholic Church accepts and supports the LGBTQ community and prohibits discrimination against them. 

However, the Church still condemns gay sex and does not recognize nor bless same-sex marriages. 


Another big difference between Catholic and Episcopal is the clergy. Both have priests, deacons, and bishops. 

However, the Episcopal Church permits ordination of women. In the Catholic church, only men can be ordained to become clergy. 

In 2006, the Episcopal Church elected the first female Presiding Bishop.

Bishops and priests in the Episcopal Church have the freedom to marry, and can be gay or transgender. 

Unlike the Catholic Church that has a worldwide leader (the Pope), the Episcopal Church does not believe in a central figure of authority. Instead, they have Bishops. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church (including the US Episcopal church), but he is just a symbolic/spiritual leader. He does not have any authority outside England. 

Beliefs and Practices

Finally, let’s look at how differently Episcopalians and Catholics do things when it comes to important religious beliefs and practices. 

One major difference is the sacrament of penance (Catholic), or reconciliation (Episcopal).

In both churches, you can confess your sins to a priest and receive absolution. However, while penance before a priest is mandatory in the Catholic Church, it’s optional in the Episcopal Church. 

Episcopalians have the option to confess their sins privately to God. 

You’ll also notice a difference in how Episcopalians and Catholics pray. Catholic prayers are full of requests to Mary and other saints for intercession. Episcopalian prayers? Not so much. 

That said, the Episcopalian church still recognizes and honors saints. 

Another notable difference in practice between the two churches is Holy Communion. The Catholic Church is very strict in its requirements of who can receive communion – baptized catholics who’ve gone to confession, are not living in mortal sin, and in a state of sanctifying grace. 

Officially, the Episcopal church says only baptized believers can receive the Holy Communion. However, most dioceses have open communion, inviting anyone to participate. 

Another big difference: the Episcopal Church approves of family planning. 

Do Episcopalians Pray the Rosary?

Do Episcopalians Pray The Rosary

The Anglican Church, which encompasses the Episcopal Church, has a form of rosary called Anglican prayer beads or Anglican Rosary. It is used as an aid for prayer. 

However, many Episcopalians rarely use it. But you may find Episcopalians close to Catholicism (Anglo-Catholics), regularly praying the rosary

Do Episcopalians Believe in Heaven?

Yes, they do as well as hell. But in contrast to the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church does not believe in the existence of purgatory. 

In fact, the main Anglican Communion denounces the teaching and belief of purgatory, though some Anglo-catholics continue to believe in it

Bottom Line: Catholic vs. Episcopal 

The Catholic and Episcopal churches are similar and different in equal measures. 

They share the same belief on important matters such as baptism, salvation, forgiveness, and the Holy Trinity.

But they diverge on similarly important matters of Holy Matrimony, homosexuality, clergy, and confession. 

We agree with the Episcopal Church’s own description: Protestant yet Catholic.

22 thoughts on “What Is The Difference Between Catholic And Episcopal?”

  1. Nice summary article. Just confirms what I believe Episcopalians to be…separated brothers and sisters in faith. Sadly, if many used to be Catholic and changed, their souls are currently in a state of mortal sin. As Scripture clearly says, it would be better for them to never have come to a knowledge of the truth instead of being given the gift of faith by God then turning away from HIM. They may disagree but just because someone disagrees with teachings doesn’t mean they can freely throw them out for their convenience without consequences. Many are called, few are chosen. I hope many either return to the Catholic faith or are drawn to conversion from their faith. The only path to salvation is through the church Jesus Christ started. Anything else is false. Jesus Christ never said carrying the cross would be easy…..I pray all people can come to the true church and put their pride aside. It’s not about us being right and them wrong….it’s about salvation of souls….

    • Actually if someone disagrees with teachings doesn’t that mean that they CAN and SHOULD throw them out. Isn’t that what the apocryphal gospels are? Teachings that were thrown out because the people in power in the church at the time didn’t agree with them? You really think if someone was catholic and they became Episcopalian they’re gonna be doomed to burn in hell for eternity just because they endorse gay marriage and confess their sins to God in private instead of to an old man in a dark box? These antiquated beliefs are why the catholic church is dying. There’s no one size fits all doctrine for all of humanity, Everyone has a different set of morals and different personal beliefs. Religion needs to evolve with society, that’s why in the old Testament God was much more fierce and strict (killing everyone in the world for being naughty, only letting his good friend Noah and all the animals live) Why would God, who made us all out of pure love in his image and likeness, forsake nearly everyone that ever lived to an eternity of hellfire and brimstone, and only let those who followed the rules written in a book written thousands of years ago that was passed through the hands of hundreds of people to write and translated from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English? How can you be so sure what you’re reading is the objective truth and there are no other possibilities?

      • You are so very wrong in so many ways here. The Old Testament was not “thrown out” nor was the New Testament an “evolution” of thought. The coming of Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament thus the teachings of Jesus and the gospels of the Aposal’s writings became the New “Testament” or the Word of God.

        It always amazes me how much people want to “adapt” the teachings to fit their views. How very arrogant it must be to God to hear someone say we should “adapt” to society’s new norms and not follow God’s written word. The word of God is followed by Faith. Not by sight.

        To truly follow Christ means we do not follow anything else. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” There is no such thing as a “halfway disciple.” As the disciples demonstrated, no one can follow Christ by the strength of his own willpower.

        Try reading it in its original language perhaps you will understand its meaning then. Until then your uneducated “opinions” are just that.

    • A bunch of human constructed bullshit. Brainwashing at its highest level. Dogmatic religion of any sort is nonsense, and primitive log beating. Man created the need to feel guilty about himself. The “Church” created this bafoonery for political control. “God” doesn’t exist as a singular being with nothing better to do than need to be worshiped. That is man’s ego at its worst. “God” is the absolute totality of consciousness. The Quantum framework, and fabric of of all dimensions of Space-Time. Every sub-atomic particle in real, and imagined space is the very essence of God. I am God, You are God. We are ALL God. That Unified Consciousness in not divisible. Religion is a man-made ignorance of slavery, and ritual laziness of the mind.

    • My apologies, but it is exactly about who is right and who is wrong, and you are absolutely in the wrong. Jesus did not “start” any church. The Christian church was founded, 100 years after his death, by descendents of his followers, and from the very beginning was divergent in interpretation and expression. No one needs to return to any church of your preference to be “saved,” and no one needs to believe as you do, worship as you do, or share the same worldview that you do. No one is among “the chosen.” That is a pretentious, alienating, marginalizing and clinically narcissistic belief that can only be held by bigots seeking scriptural support for their very personal inclination to bigotry. Jesus taught, above all, to LOVE and to find Him within strangers–those who are least like us. I will not ask if you truly recognize other races as your kin, or if you merely “tolerate ‘them,'” as a “good Catholic”–this is a question for your own inner reflection. You do not know your religious history and you do not know yourself. The Catholic church is about persecution, whether in the burning of women, or the condemnation of gays, or the massacre of___ and theft of property of___ and usurping of historic religious practices, holidays and identity of of___ or the lynching of___ (basically just fill in the blanks, here). You think and judge as it does, without understanding what it has done to you, and how it has limited your human experience and harmed your social and psychological health. Know your history, and know yourself. The rest of us, in our religious choices and our connections and true LOVE of our human kin, are minding ours.

  2. They don’t have Apostlic succession. It not church started by Jesus. They also condone sin, that’s clearly in bible.

    • Mr. Smith the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church certainly do have Apostolic succession. The Apostolic Succession of the Anglican Church was through the Roman Church from the arrival of St. Augustine in A.D. 597 until the Act of Supremacy A.D.1534 when King Henry VIII asserted control over the English Church. Thomas Cranmer was at that time Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of all England. And all denominations are the Church of Jesus Christ.

    • When the Anglican church separated from the Roman church, it kept the bishops that had been ordained in the Roman church, and those bishops then ordained new bishops in the Anglican church, and so on and so on – so the current bishops in the Episcopal Church, the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, and others in the Anglican communion can trace an unbroken line back to those early bishops in England who in turn can trace back to Peter. So bishops in the Episcopal Church are definitely in the apostolic succession, and new bishops are always ordained by at least three other bishops to make sure this remains.

  3. Striking departures on religious, political and social issues separate Episcopalians from the teachings espoused by the mother Catholic Church. While I embrace and subscribe to Catholic teachings and would have my children do the same, I would not so eagerly presume that the love of God is unable or unwilling to save those of His children who are not similarly disposed. May we all receive mercy at the time of God’s perfect and all-knowing judgment.

  4. Is the Episcopal sacrament of Unction the equivalent of Catholic Anointing of the Sick ( Last Rites) and is it valid by Church law. Specifically, can a fallen away Catholic receive Episcopal Unction and have all sins forgiven before death if a Catholic Priest is unavailable or not wanted.

  5. It’s the HS who is.present in the Anointing and it is handed down through Apostolic Succession

  6. As a devout catholic for 60 years. I consciously can no longer attend weekly catholic masses because of their stand on LGBTQ people and pro life. The God I was raised with forgives all, accepts all because all you have to do is ask forgiveness. The matters I mentioned above are NO humans business but between you and GOD alone. As much as I enjoy going to church I am looking for an alternative and I feel the Episcopal church is going to be my best bet. I miss going to church but consciously and within the faith/morales I was raised can no longer attend catholic masses.

    • No, “all you have to do is ask forgiveness” is not all. First, you must REPENT of your sin. Repent means to turn away from, to change one’s mind. When you have repented and asked forgiveness, THEN you are forgiven. The Bible clearly teaches against homosexuality, as well as any other sin. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Why would homosexuality be set aside by you or anyone else?

    • Agree 100%! Tired of hearing more about that than the teachings of Christ. I miss going to Mass and communing with God. This may address that!

  7. Thank you for the summary. I found it very helpful. I was raised Catholic but, no longer feel its doctrines bring peace, love and joy to my soul. There will always be different interpretations of the bible. I am glad that there are differences and people can choose a house of worship that touches their heart. Practicing religion well, in any manner, does not make one better than another in eyes of God, if you do not have love. To love one another ‘without’ judgement is the key and we humans have not learned how to do that ubiquitously, yet. That is why Jesus will have to come again.

  8. [ Terrible ]
    Any human being or supernatural being who does terrible things to human beings, who are themselves, not terrible; is indeed terrible!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Catholics & Bible

6140 S Drexel Ave
Chicago, IL 60637


Amazon Disclaimer

Catholics & Bible is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


Catholics & Bible do not intend to provide any health related advice. We try to help our readers better understand their lives; however, the content on this blog is not a substitute for any professional medical guidance. Please read our PRIVACY POLICY.