Differences between us and Anglicans

Pardon my ignorance, but can you please help with a list of differences between Catholics and Anglicans, both beliefs and practices at Church?
Or where I can find such a list.
Much obliged.

I’ll put some Q&A up for you mate.

What is the difference between the Church of England and the Catholic Church?

The differences are legion. Firstly, there is all the difference between a Church established by Henry VIII., King of England, and that established so carefully by Christ. Secondly, the Anglican Church is still subject to parliament; is national in character; is chaotic in doctrine and discipline; has no valid orders; rejects the Mass, and the obligation of Confession. But why continue! All is summed up in the fundamental difference that the Catholic Church is the true Church, whilst the Church of England is a man-made substitute Church.

But the very word reformation supposes a continuously existing body.

Historians use the word reformation to designate the religious changes of the 16th century, but the radical change cannot be called reform. The Church of England began with a new constitution altogether, with Caesar as supreme in the things which should belong to God. Before the Reformation the Mass was the very centre and essence of religion, yet before very long it was banished and ridiculed. The new religion meant a change in both worship and discipline.

The Roman Church has often changed its constitution.

Never. The Catholic Church, subject to the Bishop of Rome, has the same constitution as that given her by Christ when He said to St. Peter, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my Church.” She has the same foundation as the one and only Church in England until the substitution of himself by Henry VIII. as the foundation stone of the Church of England. The Anglican Church came into existence by a complete change of constitution which every previous Archbishop of Canterbury from the time of Augustine would have rejected with horror.

How can you deny the Orders of Anglican Bishops? They go back to the Bishops of the Reformation period.

There have been Anglican Bishops continuously since the Reformation, but valid Orders have not been continuously handed on. Henry VIII began the Church of England in 1534. The Bishops who submitted to him were validly consecrated, and validity lasted until 1550. But in that year, under Edward VI, a great effort was made to protestantize still more the Church of England both in doctrine and in practice. The form of Ordination was deliberately changed, all reference to priesthood in the true Christian sense of the word being eliminated. This defective form, utterly useless for the true ordination of priests, remained unchanged until 1662 - 112 years later. Then the mistake was realized and the form was corrected. But the correction was too late, for those with correct Orders had died, and only those who had been invalidly consecrated remained to hand on their pretended Orders. Not a few Anglicans have tried to make sure of Orders by re-ordination at the hands of schismatical Bishops. The Anglican Bishop Knox, writing in the National Review for September, 1925, said correctly, “The Pope refused absolutely to recognize our Anglican Orders on the ground that our Church does not ordain priests to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. In spite of attempts made by our Archbishop to conceal this defect, the Pope from his point of view was unquestionably right. It is true that certain priests of the Church of England offer so-called Masses, but as they were not ordained by the Church with the intention that they should offer the Body and Blood of Christ to the Father, the Sacrament of their Ordination is for this purpose a failure. The Prayer Book and Ordinal are simply un-Catholic, since they show no sign of fulfilling the most important of all Catholic functions.”

Is the decision of Rome regarding Anglican Orders irrevocable?

Yes. It is an infallible decision concerning a secondary object connected with and necessary for the defence of revealed dogma. We have to accept the decision, not from a motive of divine faith, but because of the infallible authority of the Church. The question was submitted to a thorough and even sympathetic consideration, the Pope knowing that if Anglican Orders could be admitted as valid the road to re-union would be much easier. But the evidence compelled the Pope to declare them invalid. Pope Leo XIII. definitely adopted the decision of die appointed Commission, and published the condemnation with his own infallible authority to support it. No Anglican clergyman could officiate in the Catholic Church without being ordained by a Catholic Bishop.

At least you cannot quarrel with Anglican teaching.

I am afraid I would have to ask you to tell me what you believe to be the teaching of the Anglican Church. Anglicans hold all kinds of conflicting beliefs. Dr. Gore writes a book on Church of England doctrine, and Bishop Barnes flatly contradicts it I have a dozen Anglican books on Church of England doctrine, and all explain it differently. Anglican teachings, however, do contradict those of Christ.

Not to be too glib about it:

The Catholic Church was started by Christ and the Holy Spirit. It has an unbroken apostolic succession back to the 12 apostles and to Jesus.

The Anglican Communion was started by King Henry VIII because the Pope refused to grant him an annulment, and he wanted to marry a new younger model. In the following few decades this new church was then significantly modified by a range of protestant beliefs.

These beliefs included:
Destruction of Monasticism. The monasteries were brutally suppressed.
instutionalisation (Nationalisation) of the church: i.e. merging of the church and state.
Significant Iconoclasm. Most statues, stain glass windows, and other images were torn down and destroyed. in some parishes there has been some reversal of this trend.
A belief in Democratic leadership of the church. (This is incompatible with the catholic belief in Theocracy as the only possible way to govern the Church)

Significant practical differences:
The Anglican Church lacks a central repository of Truth. there can be significant variation in what different bishops and ministers teach and believe: even to the extent of some archbishops denying the divinity of Christ.
There is significantly different understanding of the Real Presence.
They do not have the Sacrament of Confession.

Other posters can add more detail.

Could you tell me how?

All Anglicans at least accept an Erastian Church subject to political and parliamentary authority in England, and throughout the world they deny the necessity of submission to the lawful authority of the successor of St. Peter, the present Bishop of Rome. Again, half the members of the Anglican Church say that they believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and half say that they do not. Now Christ said, “Hear the Church.” If the Anglican Church were the true Church, which half must men hear? As a teaching Church Anglicanism fails, and is compelled to tolerate such men as Bishop Barnes, who openly deny the explicit doctrines of Christ.

We Anglicans have the same Apostles’ Creed as you Catholics.

You recite the same Creed, but you do not believe in it in the true Catholic sense. Catholics recite and accept the Apostles’ Creed in practice. Anglicans recite it. All Anglicans say, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord.” Many Anglicans do not believe that He is truly the Son of God. All Anglicans say, “Born of the Virgin Mary.” Many deny the Virginity of Mary. All Anglicans say, “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” But none of them joins it, or if he does, he ceases to be an Anglican. All Anglicans say, “I believe in the Communion of the Saints,” but few dare enter into communication with the Saints. All say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins,” but the vast majority ignore the Sacrament of Confession. Anglicans may recite the Creed, but most Anglicans certainly do not realize what the words imply.

Would you say that the Archbishop of Canterbury is preaching an anti-Christian doctrine?

He preaches the doctrine of the Church of England as he understands it, and being in good faith, no fault probably attaches to him. But the real question is, “Are the doctrines of the Church of England anti-Christian?” The reply is, “Not in every single matter. Various groups within the Anglican Church have kept some parts of Christ’s teaching intact. But in many things all Anglicans reject certain doctrines without warrant. The present Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury is, of course, a heretic and a schismatic objectively. Catholic Bishops throughout the world will enter into no official relations whatever with those Anglican Bishops who have appeared on the scene only since the 16th century.”

Are not Anglo-Catholics passing slowly to Catholic ways?

Why should they have to do so, if the Anglican Church is right, and has ever been right? But, even so, Anglo-Catholics are not passing to Catholic ways. The Catholic way is obedience to the God-given authority of the Catholic Church, and Anglo-Catholics are as far off from that as ever.

Are not Anglo-Catholics passing slowly to Catholic ways?

Why should they have to do so, if the Anglican Church is right, and has ever been right? But, even so, Anglo-Catholics are not passing to Catholic ways. The Catholic way is obedience to the God-given authority of the Catholic Church, and Anglo-Catholics are as far off from that as ever.

I am an Anglican, and I was present in the Anglican Church of St. James in Sydney where a Requiem Mass was celebrated for the repose of the soul of one of our deceased priests. This occurred in 1930.

The Clergy of that Church wish to adopt the titles and ceremonies of the Catholic Church, but not the obligations of Catholics. No Requiem Mass was really celebrated. A service was held, and called a Requiem Mass. At the Synod held shortly after this event Bishop D’Arcy Irvine protested most strongly against the whole affair. Here are his words, as reported in the Daily Guardian, October 13th, 1930, “Requiem Masses are in direct contrariety to the plain and emphatic statements both of the Articles and also of the devotional language of the Book of Common Prayer. They are repugnant to Anglican theology; they are repugnant to Anglican authority; they are repugnant to the Anglican Liturgy and worship. From the fable, or deceit, or folly—from the practice and doctrine of Requiem Masses may God preserve the Church of England. From cover to cover the Book of Common Prayer has no place for Requiem Masses.”

I belong to the High Church party, but I think it is wrong to criticize other parties.

I presume you are High Church because you think it right, and not Low Church because you think that wrong. If you think them equally right there is no reason why you should insist that you are High Church rather than Low Church. You could not defend your own position without criticizing the position you cannot accept.

In spite of all that you say, I still believe that Henry VIII was justified in establishing the Church of England. He purified English religion

Had he left the Catholic Church in order to become a better man himself, and in order to make his people better, you might have a case. But he did not.

He left the Church merely because he was not going to be told by the Pope what to do.

You have said it. Henry was not going to be told even by the Pope to keep God’s law, so he rebelled, and his rebellion was the genesis of Anglicanism. It began in disobedience, even as all the world’s troubles began in the cry of Satan, “I will not serve.” When men refused to obey God, they found everything else refusing to obey them, even their own passions. And when Anglicanism refused to obey the Catholic Church, it lost the power to secure obedience even from its own clergy.

Old England still stands under the Protestant flag of liberty !

The Protestant flag of what liberty? You are dealing with a very dangerous word. There is no absolute liberty. Liberty always implies relative restriction. If I am free from truth, I am subject to error; if free from virtue, subject to vice. When science proved the world round, it took away my liberty to believe it to be flat. But I do not want to be free to believe it flat. When God revealed His law, that revelation took away my liberty to do what that law forbade. When He revealed a definite religion, He took away my liberty to belong to any religion I might wish. His law takes away the liberty of divorce and re-marriage. Good old England gives her subjects the liberty to have it. But that is the liberty of the devil and refusal of submission to God. A man can be free from God and be the servant of Satan, or be free from Satan and be the servant of God. Choose which liberty you will have. But quite a lot of England’s liberty is liberty from the law of God. I am of purely English descent, and there is no national prejudice in what I say. But if my own mother commits murder, I refuse to be so blinded by my love for her as to deny that it is a crime.

Since the opening of the Bible to her people, God has favored England as no other nation since Israel.

England has progressed materially, but no argument can be deduced from that. God gives temporal benefits to good and bad alike. Spiritual blessings are the real blessings. England is rapidly drifting to irreligion altogether, and the Book you say she has opened to her people is being torn to shreds and ridiculed by Englishmen in a way which Catholic reverence for the Word of God could never tolerate.

Christian conditions came to England with Protestantism.

Christian conditions are rapidly fading in England as a result of Protestantism. Protestantism gave men so-called liberty to think for themselves, and men have interpreted it as license to think whatever they please.

England could still be Catholic had not men taken to thinking.

Englishmen left the Catholic Church originally through fear for their property and their lives. Not many desired to share the fate of St. Thomas More, and dear old Henry VIII. had the delightful habit of confiscating all the possessions of those who would not transfer their allegiance from the Pope to himself. Four hundred years have dimmed the memory of these things, and no real thought is given to the matter by the average Englishman. But those who can and do think are rapidly giving up Protestantism, and becoming either Agnostics or Catholics. Unfortunately there is no particular prejudice against becoming an Agnostic, whilst there is still a strong lingering prejudice against becoming a Catholic. Also to become a Catholic requires more thinking than to become an Agnostic, and thinking is too much like hard work on such an unimportant matter as the rights of God over mankind.

The Roman Church is built upon one interpretation of Scripture, the Anglican Church upon another. The latter may be as equally right as the former, for all we know.

Since the Anglican Church is a contradiction of the Catholic Church, it could not possibly be equally as right. If one of the two is right, the other must be wrong. Meantime, the Anglican Church is not based upon Scripture. It is based upon the revolt of Henry VIII. from the Catholic Church. Later on interpretations were read into Scripture to suit the Church he founded. That is a matter of history. Many other non-Catholic churches have been originally based upon peculiar misinterpretations of Scripture, and it would be possible to build up hundreds of other churches upon further such misinterpretations. The Catholic Church, however, whilst in full accord with the true sense of Scripture, is not built upon it She existed before a line of the New Testament was written. Her members wrote the New Testament, and she tells us what they really meant when they wrote them. She is built upon the historical Person of Christ, and proves her divine commission by her continued possession of the attributes Christ conferred upon her. Now that the Gospels are written they confirm her claims when rightly interpreted—but that is all H not a Ifns of the New Testament had ever been written, the Catholic Church would still be here.

One of the problems in coming up with a list is that there are now several forms of Anglicanism. One form is that known as the “Continuing Church,” which stems from more conservative folk separating from the Episcopal church over issues doctrine, worship, and practice. Here is a brief list of beliefs from one such group.

We hold to the doctrines of the first seven ecumenical councils prior to the schism between east (Orthodox) and west (Roman) in 1054 AD.

We believe the Holy Scriptures to be the revealed Word of God, containing all things necessary to salvation, and that salvation is found only through Jesus Christ.

We believe the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds to be sufficient statements of personal faith.

We believe in the seven sacraments—outward signs of inward and spiritual grace.

We believe in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and deem it as a mystery.

We recognize and support the sanctity of human life, beginning at conception.

We believe that marriage - defined as the lifelong union of one man and one woman - is God’s loving provision for procreation and family life, and that sex outside such marriage is against God’s law.

We accept the ordained ministry of male Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in Apostolic Succession (as in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches), and as in Eastern churches, married men may be ordained.

We worship using the traditional 1928 Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican Missal, the American Missal and the 1940 Hymnal. We approve the use of the King James (Authorized) translation of the Bible as well as the Revised Standard Version and the Jerusalem Bible.

Some general differences between Anglicans and Catholics would include the Anglican rejection of such things as papal authority, purgatory, transubstantiation, and celibacy of priests. Certain beliefs about Mary are also not as strongly held:

"An Anglican is free to believe or not to believe that Mary was ever-virgin; Scriptural evidence may be read in different ways in this matter. An Anglican is free to believe or not to believe that Mary was bodily assumed into heaven; there is no Scriptural evidence that she was so assumed. Anglicanism is silent on the contention that Mary was herself immaculately conceived, so as to be free of all original sin; there is no Scriptural evidence whatever on this point. And Anglicanism does not accept Mary as a mediatrix for us; the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church ends in the name of Jesus Christ, “our only Mediator and Advocate”.

That’s not the case across Anglicanism.

(This is incompatible with the catholic belief in Theocracy as the only possible way to govern the Church)

That makes no sense at all. All churches are “theocratic.” Theocracy is a meaningful concept in civil government, because it has to do with the relationship between civil and religious authorities. It’s not a meaningful concept here that I can see.

Bishops in the early Church were elected–that’s undisputed. For most of the Church’s history, the official, canonical way to choose a bishop was election by the cathedral chapter (much modified by both papal and government intervention). Papal appointment is a modern innovation. There’s nothing sacred about it. Whether it’s a good or a bad practice, it is not a doctrinal one.

There is nothing whatever heretical that I can see about the way the Episcopal Church elects bishops.

That being said, I agree that many Episcopalians (this does not apply to the C of E or most other parts of the Anglican Communion) do think of church polity in terms drawn from secular American democratic politics, and that this is a serious problem. But it’s not as if the polity of the Catholic Church isn’t also deeply influenced by secular political traditions.

even to the extent of some archbishops denying the divinity of Christ.

What archbishops do you have in mind?

There is significantly different understanding of the Real Presence.

There is a wide spectrum of views on the Real Presence. The view found in the 39 Articles is significantly different on a number of points. But in fact many Anglicans hold a view that is not significantly different from the Catholic view–the Articles are not treated as binding in the Episcopal church, and in England many Anglicans explain them in a Catholic sense.

They do not have the Sacrament of Confession.

The Catholic Church does not recognize our sacrament of confession because it doesn’t recognize the validity of our priests. Classic, Reformation-era Anglicanism took the standard Protestant position that penance/confession is not a sacrament, and indeed had less place for private confession than the Lutherans (Richard Hooker lists this as one of the points of difference between Anglicanism and Lutheranism). Anglicans did practice a “general confession” and declaration of absolution, and the sick were encouraged to confess their sins to the priest/minister. However, regular private confession was only reintroduced as a devotional practice in the 19th century, and it was controversial then. It is not binding on us as it is in the Catholic Church: the standard line is “all may, none must, some should.” However, the specifics of how it’s done, when it is done, are essentially the same as in Catholicism, including the obligation of secrecy on the part of the priest. Here’s the rite as it appears in the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer (the official liturgy of the Episcopal Church).


Bravo, your method of participating in this discussion leaves something to be desired. You are obviously reproducing a rather old–and probably English?–piece of Catholic apologetics in question-and-answer form. The “questions” (the short statements) are stereotypical (and not very serious) Anglican propaganda lines (not produced by real Anglicans but by a Catholic for purposes of refutation, though a hundred years ago these were the sorts of things many Anglicans said, and they aren’t completely irrelevant even today). The lengthier paragraphs are Catholic refutations.

Cutting and pasting lengthy material is discouraged in this forum. It would have been better simply to give a link. That would have had the further advantage of telling us exactly where this is coming from.


True, in essence. But an amendment. Not all Anglicans reject Papal authority. The question of what that authority is, is the point. Nor do all reject the concept of purgatory (C.S. Lewis, for example), though again, precise details on the concept may differ. And you will find Anglicans who affirm fully transubstantiation. But it, as with some of the Marian points you mention, is not de fide. Few things are.

As I often note, in general, generalizations re: Anglicans are generally wrong.


Anglicanus-Catholicus, posterus traditus Anglicanus



Yes, but one generalization that I think is safe to make–reflected in your remarks above–is that many fewer things are *de fide *in Anglicanism than in Catholicism.




I am not sure if this is the forum to make this observation, however I think one of the key differences between the two is imperialism. To me the Anglican Church is coloured by imperialism through out. This can be observed in the choice of words in the King James translation such as the use almost exclusivly of the word worship where in many cases the Douay Reims uses adoration or adore.
This is understandable as when the King James was being written the anglican church was very aware that it would be used to form thier liturgy where as the Catholic church already had a well formed liturgy.
This imperialism can also be observed in the liturgy of the two Churches e.g when the Anglicans say the lords prayer in worship services after the last line “but deliver us from evil” the Anglican liturgy then adds “for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory now and for ever” Amen. Where as the Catholic liturgy after the last line goes “deliver us oh lord from every evil and grant us peace in our day” Amen.
Just like the words “worship” and “adore” the former implies an old testament fear of God and by extension a fear of Gods representatives on earth i.e the king. where as the later implies a comming to Christ. A journy that culminates in total and completet adoration as we move ever deeper into the mystery of the Godhead.

Let me know what you think?

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