Episcopalian vs. Roman Catholic: How do they compare?

Episcopalians hold quite a controversial view about same-sex marriage and the authority of women in the church. However, they have similar practices to Roman Catholics. They also have key differences, but people often think Episcopalians are Roman Catholics. The fact that they categorize themselves under both Protestant and Roman Catholicism which are branches of Christianity, raises more confusion. So, let’s look at Roman Catholicism vs. Episcopalian.

Episcopalians and Roman Catholics are Christians because they believe in God, the Holy Trinity, and the Bible. They both strive to live lives that exemplify Jesus Christ’s life on earth. However, they hold different views, including that Episcopalians do not follow the papacy like Roman Catholics. Also, unlike Roman Catholics, Episcopalians support same-sex marriage, and their priests are allowed to marry, among other differences.

So, what is the difference between Episcopalian and Roman Catholicism? What are the similarities between Episcopalian and Roman Catholicism? Which came first between Episcopalian and Roman Catholic? What do Catholics think of Episcopalian? Are Roman Catholic and Episcopalian both considered Christians? Read on to find out.

What Is The Difference Between Episcopalian And Roman Catholicism?

The difference in Meanings of Names

The name Episcopalian originates from the meaning of overseer as a Greek word and the word for Bishop in Latin. The meaning defines a church that grants its authority to the office of the Bishop. Furthermore, the name refers to the enormous tradition in American Anglican Communion. On the other hand, Roman Catholicism gets its name from Rome, a city in Italy. The Catholic word means universal to show that Roman Catholicism is a universal branch of Christianity where local churches follow one common culture and tradition of Christianity.

Different Branches

Episcopalian is said to fall under both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, which are branches of Christianity. The High Church practices more catholic traditions, while the Low Church practices more protestant ways. However, it is argued that a church cannot be under two branches simultaneously. Therefore, more people refer to Episcopalian as a church under the protestant branch.

On the other hand, Roman Catholicism traces its origins to Christianity, directly implying that it started during the time of Jesus and Peter. Roman Catholics believe that Peter was the first pope. They back their argument with Matthew 16:18-19 And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

This implies that Roman Catholicism teaches that they are among the oldest branches of Christianity because Christianity also started around the same time.

They have a different founding.

To understand the founding of the Episcopalian Church, we need to look at the founding of the Anglican tradition. The Anglican tradition was founded during Henry VIII, who protested against Roman Catholicism.

It dates back to the church in England during the revolutionary war. On the other hand, Roman Catholicism implies that it started as the first church. The church was founded by Jesus, who left Peter in charge.

They have different contributors.

Also, the key contributors of the Episcopalian church during the beginning included Queen Elizabeth, King Edward VI, and theologian Richard Hooker.

On the other hand, the contributors of the Roman Catholic included Irenaeus, Ignatius of Antioch, the first fathers of the early church, and the first Bishops of Rome.

Roman Catholicism has a higher membership than Episcopalians

Episcopalians are up to 2 million in America and 1 million outside America. On the other hand, Roman Catholics record a higher membership of approximately 1 billion worldwide.

They get their authority differently.

Episcopalians get their authority from the Bible and their prayer book called The Book of Common Prayer. Also, they recognize and value both the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds. On the other hand, Roman Catholicism considers the Pope, the Holy Bible, and their traditions authoritative.

Roman Catholics get justified through forgiveness and sanctification.

The Episcopal Church is considered to hold a liberal social view. On the other hand, Roman Catholics are conservative in socio-political matters.

The difference in Recognizing Ecumenical Councils

Episcopalians recognize the first four Ecumenical councils. It includes Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. However, Episcopalians attach value to other councils that align with the scripture. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic acknowledges 21 Ecumenical councils and attaches much importance to the first seven.

The difference in Human Leadership roles

Also, the Episcopalians have a human leader with Bishop’s accord. Their main leader is called the Archbishop of Canterbury. Presiding Bishops in Episcopalian churches are the chief Pastors. On the other hand, the human leader in Roman Catholicism is the Pope. The Pope is not only the head of the church but is also considered the Vicar of Christ.

View of The Bible

The Episcopalian churches view the Bible differently from the Roman Catholic and differ depending on whether they are a high or low church. The Low Church is more protestant, values the scripture more, and accords it with full authority.

The high church gave the Bible less authority as it had to be backed up with authority with the ecclesiastical tradition. Members can read the deuterocanonical books, but they cannot be used for doctrine. On the other hand, all Roman Catholic churches accord authority to scripture and ecclesiastical traditions. Their doctrine includes deuterocanonical books.

Different views about Mary mother of Jesus

Episcopalians in the Low Church do not accord so much importance to Mary even though they agree that she was the virgin who gave birth to Jesus. However, the high church.

Episcopalians look at Mary as holy and pray through her too. On the other hand, all Roman Catholics believe in the holiness of Mary.

Mary was a virgin, and God chose her to carry baby Jesus in her womb. She led a sinless life and served the purpose of reversing the curse brought by Eve. At her time to depart the world, Mary was raptured into heaven. Roman Catholics say Mary is an advocate and co-mediator in heaven.

Different beliefs about Saints

Also, believers in Episcopalians pray in alignment with saints and not to Saints. On the other hand, the Catholics consider Saints who lived long ago as people who can hold canonical prayers. They believe they can ask for blessings from them and pray to them.

Explanation of leadership

Episcopalians have a different way of leadership from Roman Catholicism. Episcopalian churches hold that their leadership can be traced back to the time of the apostles. On the other hand, Roman Catholic leadership is in priests and nuns. Priests and nuns fully dedicate themselves to a prescribed form of life that includes being chaste, obeying the commandments, and selflessness.


Episcopalians baptize both children and adults. On the other hand, Roman Catholics hold the baptism of babies to cleanse babies of their original sins.

Different views about the last supper

Episcopalians eat their holy communion as directed by Jesus during the last supper. They believe in the presence of Jesus Christ during the eating of the Holy Communion. However, to Episcopalians, eating the Holy Communion is more than just remembering Christ. On the other hand, Roman Catholics eat their holy communion on transubstantiation beliefs. They believe that aside from remembering and commemorating Christ, the elements become His body and blood.

Different Stands on Same-Sex Marriage

Episcopalians support same-sex marriage, while Roman Catholics do not support it. Episcopalian believes that everyone is a child of God and that God loves all humankind, including the LGBTQ community.

Episcopalian vs. Roman Catholic: How do they compare?
What Are the Similarities Between Episcopalian And Roman Catholicism? See below

What Are the Similarities Between Episcopalian And Roman Catholicism?

Nicene and Apostle’s Creed

Episcopalians and Roman Catholics believe in the Nicene Creed and the Apostle’s creed.

Similar views on the second coming of Jesus Christ

Both Episcopalians and Roman Catholics believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ. His second coming in both faiths is Amillenial.

Similar views of the Holy Trinity

Roman Catholicism and Episcopalians both believe in the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity comprises God, the father, son and the Holy Spirit. In both churches, the Holy Spirit is the third person in the trinity and helps members read and interpret the Bible.

Similar views of Jesus Christ

Both churches believe that Jesus is the second person in the Holy Trinity and that he was 100% human and 100% God. They believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and He is the Messiah sent by God to reconcile the human race with God. They believed in his teachings in the New Testament, his death, and his resurrection.

Which Came First Between Episcopalian And Roman Catholic?

Roman Catholicism came first before Episcopalians. Roman Catholics say they are also the first church that dates back to the time of Jesus and Peter.

Episcopalian came later after it broke away from the Church of England and was first an organized church in 1789. During the 16th century, the Church of England broke away from Roman Catholics because they disagreed over theological and political matters.

What Do Catholics Think Of Episcopalian?

Although they have many differences, Catholics recognize Episcopalians and consider them as fellow Christians because they worship the same God and believe in His word, the Bible. Catholics recognize Episcopalians because they are also old Ecumenical partners. Local pastors connect with Catholic priests to bond over common local issues. At international levels, Roman Catholicism considers Episcopalians as part of the Anglican Church and holds a theological conversation with the Anglican Church.

Also, Roman Catholics respect the Clergy of Episcopalians. Episcopalians who want to join the Roman Catholic enjoy their calling because they are still recognized as clergy. In addition, they can continue being married if they are already married and still practice their calling under ordination conditions.

Are Roman Catholic And Episcopalian Both Considered Christians?

Yes, Roman Catholics and Episcopalians are considered Christians because they believe in the Holy Bible, God Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Both of these churches believe in the teachings of Christ, His birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. Furthermore, members are told to accept Jesus as their savior and live according to the Bible commands. Also, in both faiths, members are baptized as a sign of being born again.


History of the Episcopal Church

Episcopal Church in the United States of America

Does the Catholic Church recognize the Episcopal Church?

Episcopalians and Roman Catholic

Episcopalian Vs. Roman Catholic, The Difference

Leave a Comment