Mormons vs. Catholics: How do they differ

Serving for 15 years in active ministry has been a great learning experience. As a college professor and a pastor, I have utilized the opportunities to learn and teach religion. One of the topics I teach in the church’s foundational classes is the differences between denominations that promote religious literacy and a deeper understanding of diverse belief systems. During our last class, a student wanted to know whether there was any difference between Mormons and Catholics. Since I have encountered the same question with some of my readers, I was prompted to write this Mormons vs. Catholics article. How are they different?

The main difference between Mormons and Catholics is the perspective of the Trinity and the religious perception of God. Mormons believe that the entity of the Trinity is three and not one, and God and Son have a body. On the other side, the Catholics believe that the entities of the Trinity are one appearing in three different forms and that God does not have a body.

I will discuss the differences between Mormons and Catholics in this article and explain some significant similarities. Read on to know these and more.

Mormons vs. Catholics: Difference in the definition

Mormons vs. Catholics - How do they differ
Mormons vs. Catholics. Image source: Pixabay

Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), a Christian religious denomination whose great foundation is in the Book of Mormons. The term Mormon was derived from the Book of Mormon, whereby Mormon is the title of the book and one of the prophets in the book.

On the other side, Catholic means universal, and the term originates from the Greek word “Katholicos,” which means universal. The meaning and application of the term is that the church embraces everyone without focusing on race, nationality, social status, gender, or language.

Difference between Mormons and Catholics





It originated in Fayette, New York, in the USA, in 1830, after publishing the Book of Mormons.

It originated from Judea in Israel and is believed to continue the early church.

Founded by

It was founded by Joseph Smith Jr. when he wrote the Book of Mormon. It follows the thoughts, principles, and teachings of John Smith and Jesus Christ.

It was founded by Jesus Christ and follows the thoughts and principles, and teachings of Jesus Christ as laid down in the gospels.


Teachings are based on the New and Old Testaments of the Bible, the Book of Mormons, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine of Covenants.

Teachings are based on the New and Old Covenants and accept the Deuterocanonical.


Priesthood is not reserved for any individuals but for any dedicated follower who believes to have a calling and is approved by the relevant church authorities.

Priesthood is reserved for celibate males with a calling and the approval of the Catholic church authority.

Presided by

The president presides over the church, an office consisting of three individuals: the president and two church counselors. Below them are the twelve apostles

It is presided over by the pope, who is believed to be the successor of Apostle Peter, “the first pope.”

How are Catholics’ and Mormons’ beliefs different?

Mormons vs. Catholics
Catholics’ and Mormons’ beliefs. Image source: Pixabay

Beliefs in Afterlife

Mormons believe that after death, the spirits go to a stage where good spirits are prepared in the spirit paradise and evil spirits are prepared in the spirit prison. After the preparation, they will be resurrected to reunite with the body. They also believe in a second chance after death.

On the other side, Catholics believe spirits go to heaven or hell after death. Although they believe there is an intermediate place called purgatory, they believe it is reserved for the purification of saints in readiness to enter heaven.


Mormons believe in the Trinity but believe that the entities of the Trinity are distinct. For instance, they believe God the Father is different from the Son and the Holy Spirit and perform particular functions. They believe the three appear differently and that the New Testament has demonstrated their distinct forms. Additionally, they believe that both the Father and the Son have bodies.

On the other side, the Catholics believe in the Trinity but hold that the three are only expressed or appear in three forms to perform different functions. This belief is based on the Old Testament teaching that God is one. In Deuteronomy 6:4, the Bible says that God is one. The verse emphasizes the belief in the oneness and unity of God and forms the foundational understanding of faith in one God. Therefore, Catholics believe God is Trinitarian and cannot possess or own a physical body.

Similarities between Mormons and Catholics

Mormons vs. Catholics
Similarities between Mormons and Catholics. Image source: Pixabay

Catholics and Mormons believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior. They also believe that his death was to atone for the sins of men. Additionally, they believe that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ and that one must abide by the law and ordinances stated in the New Testament.

They both practice water baptism and regard it as a significant sacrament. Although the practice is conducted differently, they believe it is an important step of faith and a command that should be fulfilled by those who profess faith in Jesus Christ.

They both greatly regard Mary, the mother of Jesus, and believe she deserves honor for her role. However, the Catholics seem to hold her much higher regard than Mormons.

How do Catholics view Mormons?

Many Catholics acknowledge that Mormons identify as Christians, respect their beliefs, and commit to following Jesus Christ. They recognize that Mormons have a strong faith and devotion to their religious beliefs. However, some Catholics understand the significant difference in their doctrines, particularly in areas such as the nature of God, the role of scripture, and the understanding of salvation. Hence, they may view these doctrinal disparities as significant and may not consider Mormon beliefs to align with traditional Christian teachings.

Some Catholics also view the organizational structure of the Mormons to divert from the original hierarchal order of the early church. Catholics believe the pope headed the early church, so Christians should adopt the same organizational structure. Therefore, they view the organizational structure of the Mormons as misguided and with no historical basis concerning Christianity.

Can I be both Catholic and Mormon?

You can technically identify as a Catholic and a Mormon but cannot do so based on faith, beliefs, and practices. There is a significant doctrinal difference between Mormons and Catholics, which would make it impossible to adhere to both denominations. For instance, it would be confusing what to believe when it comes to the Trinity, bearing in mind that Catholics believe that the three entities of the Trinity are one, and the Mormons believe that the three entities are distinct. Also, it would be challenging on what to believe in life after death because the two denominations are significantly different.

Additionally, Mormons see Catholics in error, especially regarding the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the current dispensation. Although Mormons honor Mary, they do not regard her as an intercessor that can present their petitions to God. Due to such and many other differences, it would be impossible to be faithful to the doctrine and teachings of the two simultaneously.

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