Christianity and Catholicism are sometimes used interchangeably in the United States, but the two belief systems contain some fundamental differences. The major differences between Christian and Catholic beliefs are the practice of religious laws.
Christians have the Ten Commandments, which are the laws of Jesus and God. Catholics have a set of rules called canon law. Canon law involves both civil and religious law that was written in the first days of Christianity.
These laws were revised by councils over the centuries. The most recent attempt to update canon law was made by Pope John Paul II in 2001, but these revisions are not yet official.
Major differences between Christian and Catholic Beliefs
1. Catholics believe that their priests, nuns and monks are empowered to act as representatives of Jesus and God on Earth. This priesthood is transmitted from one individual to another via ordination or consecration by a bishop.
Christianity teaches that all people are equal in God’s eyes. In Christianity, ministers perform only one role – to “serve” God by passing on the truths and laws of Jesus, which include the Ten Commandments and others.
Christian ministers can be called “pastors” or “teachers,” but are not priests. Women in the United States are not allowed to become Christian ministers or bishops. It is not against Christian law for a woman to be a priest, but some denominations prohibit women from becoming bishops.
2. Catholics beliefs are dedicated to the pope, who is the head of the Catholic Church. The pope appoints bishops to run dioceses, which are local congregations. These bishops have authority over priests in their diocese and can remove priests from office. Christianity teaches that Jesus is the only head of the Church and that he appointed ministers to take his place after he was crucified.
3. Catholics are required to observe their traditional rules of fasting and abstinence. These rules prohibit eating meat on Fridays, eating meat not slaughtered in accordance with Christian principles and abstaining from the consumption of alcohol.
4. Catholics believe that they must assist in the death of a non-Christian who is repentant because it will save him or her from eternal damnation. This is known as “just war. “
5. Catholics believe that the pope has the authority to forgive sins, which is an official action of the Church. He is also the final authority on marriage and divorce in a Catholic community, although he cannot make new laws. A Catholic cannot get married without permission from their priest or bishop.
6. The Catholic Mass is considered a form of worship and religious instruction for Christians. It is said about once a week and is considered part of their religious service in addition to Sunday worship services.
7. The Catholic Church teaches that all priests must be celibate, meaning single, and that their marriage is “both a private and a public act,” in accordance with their religious tradition, in order to maintain the purity of the priesthood. Protestants do not consider marriage as a necessary part of priesthood. They believe that it is possible to be both a Christian and married at the same time.
8. Catholics will not celebrate secular holidays that were not invented by Christ or his disciples. They will, however, celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
9. Catholic daily prayers are longer and more formal than Christian prayers. They include the Lord’s Prayer (similar to the Our Father in Christianity), the Hail Mary (which is a prayer to Mary), and others.
10. Catholics are members of the Roman Catholic Church, which is an independent religious institution that is not under the authority of the United States or any other country’s laws.
11. Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected three days later. Catholics believe that Jesus was crucified and resurrected with seven disciples at a time known as Holy Thursday.
Catholics will not celebrate liturgical readings or meals on these days because they are part of Catholic tradition and not secular holidays such as Christmas because they were invented by followers of Jesus after his death.
The day that Jesus was crucified is observed on Good Friday. Catholic Easter services are held on the Sunday following the first full moon, which takes place after the vernal equinox and occurs between March 22 and April 25.
12. Catholics celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, but do not celebrate Christmas for secular reasons, such as gift-giving or home decoration.
Christians celebrate Easter for its religious significance: The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
13. Christians believe that the Old Testament contains many of the laws given to Moses by God, while Catholics believe that they are based on scriptural interpretations and the guidance of Church leaders and popes.
14. Catholics donate money to their Church and to other charities, but they are not required to donate money directly to individuals in need (there is a pagan tradition of “almsgiving” in Christianity). The Christian church is not an independent institution and has no mechanism for taking money or possessions from its members.
15. Catholics will not allow Christian symbols, such as crosses or the name “Jesus,” in their homes.
16. Catholics cannot cancel marriages, but Christian ministers can do so on behalf of a couple who are getting divorced.
17. Catholics believe that a Christian man can receive the Eucharist (bread and wine), but his wife cannot.
18. Catholics can be baptized as infants, but they cannot receive the Eucharist, because they are viewed as laying a claim to Jesus.
19. Catholics consider the Bible (which they call the “New Testament”) and the subsequent writings of Jesus Christ, John the Apostle and other early Christian writers to be authentic and inspired by God.
20. The worship of saints are disciples of Christ who have significantly influenced the Church and its religious doctrines.
The Catholic Church honors various saints, but does not consider them to be gods or living people. Saints are honored in clerical positions, however.
In summary of Christian and Catholic Beliefs,
The Catholic Church has many similarities with Christianity. The major differences are the process of worship, the authority of popes, and the celebration of holidays.
Catholics do not follow Jesus’ commandments to treat others as we want to be treated and forgive those who wrong us, but they do teach that Christ is our Lord and Savior.
Catholics and Christians can live together in peace because Christians are expected to show love and forgiveness toward people who worship God differently.