These are the main differences between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church – Universal Church

“From the main differences between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Churchfor it should be noted that they also consider themselves Catholics, is that it is a national church, they are called the Catholic Church of England, hence the name Anglican“. This is how he explains it about Ecclesia, Rafael Vasquez, director of the CEE Episcopal Subcommittee on Interreligious Relations and Interreligious Dialogue.

It is true that the differences arise from the disparity between Henry VIII and the Pope because of the non-recognition of the nullity of the marriage with Catherine of Aragonbut it is also true that the ideas of the Reformed and Lutheran churches were entering England, and this meant that it was not only a matter of nullity, but of a doctrinal separation of a church that entered into reform ideas against Catholicism“.

At that time the head of the Church became the king, “something that was very characteristic of reform ideas. Then the king is a representative head, but the one who is really responsible for religious matters in the Church of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury before our churches, which are not national and whose head is the Pope as spiritual leader, successor of Peter”.

The main differences

The Primate of the Pope: While the Roman Catholic Church has the Pope as the one who presides over all churches, the Anglican Church considers the King or Queen of England to be its highest representative of God in the world.

The sacraments:lThe Catholic Church states that there are seven sacraments, while Anglicans originally considered only baptism and communion to be sacraments. Over time, more were added, but today anyone, regardless of your country or religion, can take communion.

the priesthood: For Catholics, the priesthood is only for men and they cannot marry. For Anglicans, the priesthood is for both men and women, and they can marry.

Marriage: for the Catholic Church, marriage is between a man and a woman, while Anglicans allow gay marriage without needing to be baptized in their church, and divorce is allowed.

the liturgy: The Catholic ritual uses many books for its development: Missal, Breviary, Ritual and Pontifical. From 1549 Anglicans used only the “Book of Common Prayer”.

Mary: For both Catholics and Anglicans, she is revered as the Mother of God. However, Anglicans do not observe the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, which are characteristic of Catholics.

The Present State of the Church of England

“As far as the current situation in the Church of England is concerned, there are two trends: The High Church, very pro-Catholic even in its doctrine and the most reformed trend in the Church of EnglandVasquez explains.

“This means that within the Church of England there is some tension between those who represent the more pro-Catholic Church and those who represent the more pro-Reformed Church,” he explains. However, “these churches themselves are very free, they run in a very synodal style“.

The highest body of synodality is Lambeth Conference: international meeting of Anglican bishops. The conference examines church and world issues, as well as the global mission of the Anglican Communion for the next decade.

“It was celebrated this summer and a number of agreements were reached, despite the fact that later bishops in their dioceses have the autonomy to accept these agreements or not. For example, within Anglicanism, there was a lot of tension and a long process to accept the female episcopate and the same is happening with the acceptance of homosexual marriages between priests, which creates some ambiguity and confusion“.

The most “pro-Catholic” part gives greater importance to the Sacraments, and the most Reformed part “to Baptism, the Last Supper, the preaching of the Word… But there may be Anglican churches where the Eucharist is not celebrated every Sunday, but instead focuses more on a more Reformed service of the Word“.


Despite these differences, the director of the subcommittee assures that both churches “They have been in ecumenical dialogue since the end of the Second Vatican Council, which has made relations quite close, points of agreement have been reached, including doctrinal points, and work continues in this direction, which is why some very rich theological documents have appeared“.

The joint working group is called the ARCIC Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission. “There is a very important moment at the beginning of the dialogue, it happened when Pope Paul VI gave his episcopal ring to the Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsay, at the first meeting between the two leaders in 1966.“.

Later, in 2016, the Pope Francisco and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin WelbyThey met in the Vatican. The face-to-face meeting was warm, cordial, even funny despite the language limitations.

The Pope recalled that this meeting was the result of the one held by the predecessors of the two. And he pointed out three words that can inspire when we face the path of unity: prayer, witness and mission. For his part, the Anglican primate gave the Pope a very special gift: his own pectoral cross. A symbolic gesture between the two churches.

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