Episcopalians Compared to Catholics?


My boyfriend is Episcopalian and I’m Catholic. We both thought that the churches were outwardly similar, but I know there are some real differences (aside from different heads of power). My boyfriend says the Episcopal church is like a lighter version of Catholicism, but I think it seems a lot more liberal, too.

I read that Episcopalians can be gay (and take orders) and have female priests. They don’t revere the Virgin Mary, either. How is the Episcopal mass different from the Catholic mass?

I guess I’m asking a question that requires a long answer…


As a former Episcopalian, I can say that my “stripe” of Anglicanism was in many ways “more” Katholick than many Catholics are in the Church. We did not contracept, we believed in transubstantiation, our theology of Holy Orders was identical to that of Rome in terms of the sacramental significance; we venerated the Blessed Virgin, prayed the Rosary, had votive lights at our side altar shrines and a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the garden. We had private confession scheduled every Saturday.

Our Mass looked like the Tridentine Latin Mass, complete with asperges and incense – but in English.

That said, you would have to know specifically what branch of the Episcopal tree your boyfriend sits in. There is a terrifying spectrum of belief and practice in the Episcopal Church, including all of what you mention in your post.


The standing joke is “The Episcopal Church is Catholic lite—all the liturgy, none of the guilt.” (I was part of the Episcopal Church for close to a decade)


Hmmm, I guess I need to ask him a few more questions. He was raised in Southern Virginia. He doesn’t seem very Catholic, but I’m basing this on the fact that he never had to learn the Hail Mary, doesn’t make the sign of the cross, doesn’t genuflect, etc. He does know a lot more about the bibal than I do and biblical stories. Both of us grew up in religious/practicing families.


Southern Virginia says a lot. Most Episcopal Churches around there are “low Church” – Probably not much different than the local Congregationalists. DEFINITELY no Hail Mary’s.

A lot of Episcopalians swim the Tiber . . . . Don’t be shy about drawing him closer to your tradition. Serious Episcopalians (High Church or Low) are just about bone-weary with all the nonsense.


Having worshipped among the Anglicans for some years, it’s important to understand what Anglicanism has thrown overboard to become “light.”

It tossed out valid orders ; it tossed out five sacraments; and it tossed out teaching authority (and today, beliefs-wise, almost “anything goes” among them) among other things. Similarities there may be, and they may seem very strong when among certain groups of Anglicans, but the similarities mask profound differences.

In the end, the two groups are definitely different.




I spent 20 years worshipping in an Episcopal Church in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. My two cents would be that Parishes there tend to be either: (i) low church evangelical or (ii) high church liberal. Both would have significant differences from the Catholic Church (or for that matter the Congregationalists…not that we have any of them around here since they seem to be a New England sort of thingy :smiley: ) either substantively and/or in a liturgical sense.


Would you say that a mass at the National Cathedral (in Washington) would be similar to what I’m used to and “high Episcopal”?

He has been to many masses at the National Cathedral, I’m wondering if he would be out of his element at a Catholic mass? Would I have to prep him on what to expect before he went with me?


Well, he has no doubt attended services there that are similar in structure and form to a Mass, but he has never attended a Mass there. Anglicans use the word, but don’t have one.

In most Anglican churches, the service from the newer prayer books – not the older Book of Common Prayer – show that similarity.




I wish I could answer your question. The National Cathedral is liturgically “middle Church” rather than High or Low. For “High”, I would refer you to St. Paul’s K Street (I don’t think they’ve fallen completely off the edge of the earth, although I see that they are celebrating a Mass in commemoration of “Blessed” Elizabeth Cady Stanton and “Blessed” Sojourner Truth.)

Maybe the Cathedral would better parallel a respectful Novus Ordo liturgy. You would not likely have guitars, tambourines, or bongo drums in there on a normal Sunday.


I was also raised episcopalian. When I went to my husbands CC I didnt feel to out of place at all. It was very familiar to me. I would prep him on not being able to take communion but he may go up and get blessed.

When I go to a Mass I just follow everyone else and Im fine.

I dont agree with the CC but I hope you get him out of the episcopal church because they are going downhill fast:(

My mom is still episcopalian and I will be going to her church(female minister)in aug. when I go to visit. I told my brother I need to go visit her church so as to convince her to leave. Although she knows nothing else and her father was a minister so she will probably stay.:frowning:


Oi. AFH, if your grandfather was an Episcopal minister (presuming your Mom is my generation), I find it more surprising that she is still IN the Episcopal Church – except that so many Episcopalians worship “Englishness,” the Fine Families of (write in the State – usually in the South – or the social ties that come with their affiliation. Not to mention the almost universally GORGEOUS real estate!

Be patient with her. Many Episcopal faithful are hanging on by a thread in the illusion that they can “save the church.” Ain’t happenin’ but they’re holding out.


My mom is 73–does that help? My grandfather passed away a long time ago. Im sure he would be very unhappy if he was still here.:frowning:

I think my mom is just comfortable there because it is all she has ever known:shrug: I can understand plus old people(I say with love and respect:D ) have a hard time changing and trying new stuff:( Well, at least my mom anyway:mad:


Well it’s like the old lightbulb joke. For Episcopalians, it takes 7: one to screw in the bulb, one to hold the ladder, one to mix the drinks, and 4 to stand around talking about how much better the old light bulb used to be!

Your Mom’s somewhat ahead aof me in years. My mentor, at age 64, walked out on his pension, his parish, his Holy Orders, and started over in the first breakaway Church when ECUSA ratified the first ordinations of women in 1979. WHEW! He’s a bishop now in “the church of the month club” as these groups merge/split/merge again/re-consecrate each other . . . What a mess!


Very good,succinct explanation. Thanks.


There are a few orthodox Episcopal parishes still left down this way. I left one myself.


They are a mess:( It isnt the same church I was raised in and Im only 41.:frowning:


And I can find you Anglicans that are different from what you describe here.



You have no idea how many tears I shed in the 70s, 80s and 90s over the collapse of one of the most beautiful faith traditions ever known to man.

I find it remarkable that the Lord engineered the dissolution of the Episcopal Church just to get my attention about WHERE the real deal is (that’s a joke). Rome is gruesome on Sunday mornings, but I wouldn’t be anywhere else! What PEACE! The authenticity is almost heartbreaking. The Eucharist, inestimable. Rome really IS home!


Me too. St. Thomas Fifth Avenue. St. Anthony of Padua, Hackensack, St. Paul’s K Street in DC. Almost anything in the Diocese of Fort Worth . . . And those are IN the Episcopal Church.

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