As a theology scholar, I feel fulfilled when learning about different Christian doctrines. So, I decided to research different denominations, and last year, I took on the Mennonites. I wanted to learn all about them and how they differ from popular religions. Since there is little information about them, I decided to head to Amish County, Ohio, for a few weeks to interact with the Mennonites in person. So, last week, during our Q & A session on my online Interdenominational Forum, one member raised the topic of Mennonites. He said that Mennonites were Catholics, leading to a heated debate. Looking at the misinformation among the members, I decided to tackle this topic in-depth. Luckily, I was well versed with this group and easily answered any other questions asked. So are Mennonites catholic?
No, Mennonites are not Catholics. They are part of Anabaptists, which separated from Catholicism in the 16th Century.
Join me today as I inform you about the differences and Similarities between Catholics and Mennonites in this article. I will also talk about what Catholics think about Mennonites. Read on to find out more.
General differences between Catholics and Mennonites
Number of Believers
Catholics are many compared to Mennonites. Catholics are about 1.3 Billion worldwide, while Mennonites are only about 2.1 million.
Catholics do not require women to dress in a certain attire while in the Church apart from serving women like sisters. On the other hand, Mennonite women are supposed to dress modestly. Their dresses are mostly homemade and have neutral colors. Whether in Church or not, these women have to cover their hair as a form of submission, especially in public spaces.
Catholics consider artificial contraceptives sinful; therefore, they are discouraged from using them. They are encouraged to practice natural ones, like using safe days. On the other hand, Mennonites are permitted to use artificial contraceptives.
Catholics do not permit divorce because they believe their marriage sacrament bonds the partners for life. They consider divorce a grave offense. On the other hand, Mennonites permit divorce on the grounds of adultery.
Catholics have their own Bible, which has a total of 73 books. They have 39 Protocanonicals, 7 Deuterocanonical, and 27 in the New Testament. On the other hand, Mennonites use a Bible that contains 66 books in total. It has 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.
Catholics are Episcopal in nature. They insist that churches should be under a Bishop in each diocese. The Bishops are under the Archbishops, and the Archbishops are under the Pope. On the other hand, Mennonites are Congregationalists who insist that churches should govern themselves independently.
Ordinances and Sacraments
Although both these churches have seven ordinances/ Sacraments, they are different. Catholics’ seven sacraments include; Baptism, Matrimony, the Eucharist, Holy orders, Confirmation, Penances, and praying for the sick. On the other hand, Mennonites have seven ordinances: Baptism, Marriage, the Holy Kiss, the Holy Communion, Anointing the sick, and foot washing.
Catholics believe that Mary was not a sinner like other humans. On the other hand, Mennonites believe that Mary was a sinner. Among earthly Habitants, only Jesus was free of sin.
Catholics believe that Christians can achieve perfection in this world. However, they are not free of sins, especially venial sins. On the other hand, Mennonites believe that Christianity is achievable and acknowledge that humans cannot be free of sin.
Nature of humans
Catholics believe that humans are not corrupt; it is the inclination to evil and the fact that humanity is wounded. On the other hand, Mennonites believe that humans cannot choose God on their own because they are naturally corrupt and inclined toward evil.
Catholics Baptize unsaved infants by pouring water to initiate them into Christianity. On the other hand, Mennonites do not baptize infants. They only baptize saved people by sprinkling or immersing them in water.
Differences in beliefs between Catholics and Mennonites
Existence of Purgatory
Catholics believe in Purgatory, where Souls go to get purified before going to heaven. On the other hand, Mennonites do not believe in Purgatory. They believe that Christians go to heaven when they die.
Inerrancy of the Bible
Catholics believe there is no error in the Bible with matters regarding salvation, but other matters might have errors. On the other hand, Mennonites believe that there is no error in the Bible, but some words might have some errors.
Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit is received during Baptism. On the other hand, Mennonites believe that the Holy Spirit is received at the point of salvation.
In Catholicism, a person can lose their Christianity through mortal sins and Apostasy. On the other hand, Mennonites believe that a person can lose their Christianity only through Apostasy.
Similarities between Mennonites and Catholics
Anyone can be saved
Both Catholics and Mennonites believe that anyone can be saved if they want to be saved by believing and accepting God’s grace.
The Holy Trinity
Both Catholics and Mennonites believe in the Holy Trinity. They believe in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Catholics and Mennonites believe that humans are not guilty of the Original sin, but they serve the consequences of the original sin. Also, humans’ evil nature was inherited from their first parents.
Old Testament Ceremonies
Both believe that Jesus got rid of the laws that governed the ceremony in the Old Testament.
Baptism of the dead
Both Catholics and Mennonites do not baptize the dead. A person who is alive cannot be Baptized for the sake of the dead person.
Catholics and Mennonites believe that the life of a human being starts immediately after being conceived. Therefore, matters like abortion could mean murder for both which is a grave sin.
Catholics and Mennonites do not allow sex before marriage because it is a sin.
Can Mennonites attend Catholic Church?
This depends on the person; it is their choice to do that, but there is no harm in attending a Catholic church as a Mennonite. In 2012, at the Bridgefolk conference, Mennonites and Catholics gathered at a chapel and held a double Super Service. The Catholic Priest and a Mennonite Pastor conducted the mass. It was like two services combined, and each side conducted their Service at their assigned time. The key difference lies in the theology of the Eucharist and Baptism. However, both churches worship God. Although you can choose which Church to attend, it is better to stick to one that nourishes your spirituality and avoids mixing.
Can a Catholic attend a Mennonite Sunday service?
As I said earlier, this decision is personal, but it is allowed since both churches share a common belief in Christ and the Holy Trinity. So you can choose to attend a Mennonite Sunday Service as a Catholic, but remember that there are some things you will not find in the Service. For instance, there will be no point where you will worship any saints in the Service. Also, attending their Service and participating in their holy communion will likely tamper with your belief. Unlike Catholics, Mennonites believe that the bread and wine symbolize Jesus Christ’s body and blood. Catholics believe that the wine and bread taken during communion literally represent the body of Christ and His blood. Therefore it is up to you to analyze what you believe in as a Catholic before attending the Mennonite Service.
What do Catholics think of Mennonites?
Catholics, led by the Pope, think that Mennonites are Christians like them, and God called both of them to be peacemakers among the believers. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI said that he found it fit to start understanding their fellow Christians, Mennonites, and evaluate the causes of conflict between them so that they could solve it. According to the Pope, when both churches understand each other, they will be able to heal.
The reason for the conflict between the two churches is dated back to the 16th Century. Mennonites are part of the Anabaptists who were pulling out of the Catholic Church in the 16th Century because they were not in agreement about Baptizing infants. As they pulled out, the founders of Anabaptists were killed by European Catholic Governments, calling them heretics. Since then, Mennonites feel like the Catholic Church holds negative views about them.
In 2003, Catholics and Mennonites published a document about the peace they were working on. In 2012 the Pope said that both of them share a belief in Christ and there is no need for conflict. Since then, Catholics have thought highly of Mennonites.
Can you convert from being a Mennonite to a Catholic?
Yes, you can convert from being a Mennonite to being a Catholic. Even Pastors from Mennonite can convert to Catholicism. Harold Wenger, a man who used to be a Pastor at Mennonite, proves that it is possible to convert to Catholicism by narrating his drastic moves toward it. According to him, all the mix-up in leadership in Mennonite churches was so draining and complicated. He was at peace when he found a functional leadership structure in the Catholic Church. Also, he says that he converted to Catholicism to feed his Spiritual Hunger which was achieved through the Eucharist. Therefore, there is a chance for any Mennonite to become. Catholic.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.