For many, Catholicism and Christianity are one and the same, but they are quite different. This common mistake comes from the fact that Catholicism is part of Christianity, but Christianity is a very broad term that encompasses many beliefs and dogmas, resulting in different denominations of Christians. Catholics and Christians do share many of the same beliefs, the most important one being that Christ gave his life on the Cross to save us from sin, but the difference between Catholic and Christian comes with different interpretations of what the Bible teaches us. 

The Difference Between Catholic and Christian


Both Christianity and Catholicism began around 33 A.D. with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the same part of the world, Judea, with Jerusalem being a holy city for all. Catholics believe that Jesus named Peter, one of the apostles, as his successor and head of the church. Many Christians don’t believe that Jesus established a church as much as a system of beliefs. All Christians believe in canon law and the Ten Commandments, but Catholics also follow papal law, believing that God speaks through the pope on matters of dogma and that the pope’s authority comes through the succession of Peter, the first pope. Catholics confess their sins to a priest, but most other sects of Christianity do not require anything more than confessing to God. All Christians believe in Jesus’ birth to the Virgin Mary and his death and resurrection.


The difference between Catholic and Christian can be demonstrated from their beliefs. Where Christianity encompasses all churches and sects, Catholics believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the supreme authority on Earth and that God speaks through the pope. Many Christians have different interpretations of the Bible and are free to accept or reject individual teachings. All Christians, including Catholics, strive to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth and seek life everlasting in Heaven. Catholics have long standing traditions that include preservation of an all-male priesthood, monks and nuns that date back centuries, while many other Christian denominations follow different, and in some cases, more modern traditions, including female and/or married ministers. Many Christian denominations will not only follow the teachings of the bible, which included the Jewish Old Testament, but will also follow the Gnostic gospels, which were left out the bible in the fourth century.


All Christians, including Catholics, believe that our salvation is a gift from God through his grace and love. Through faith in God and his Son Jesus, we receive eternal life in Heaven and are saved from sin and death through that faith and grace. Baptism is the key to that salvation, and all Christians believe that you receive Jesus Christ when you are baptized. Catholics are baptized after birth while many Christians can be baptized at any time after you have attained a belief and faith in Christ. Christians believe that through baptism, you die with Jesus and are reborn, or resurrected.

The Bible

The Holy Bible is believed by all Christians to be a collection of books teaching canon and dogma. The bible is in two parts, the Old Testament which is derived from the Jewish Torah, and the New Testament, which includes the Gospels, the teachings of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. It is believed to have been written by human authors who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, part of the Trinity and is a series of lessons and teachings to help guide our lives and lead us toward salvation. Some Christians will also include in their readings the Gnostic gospels, books that were excluded from the bible in the fourth century. Catholics do not follow the Gnostic gospels but instead rely on Sacred Traditions, those teachings believed handed down through centuries by the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Different sects can have different interpretations of what is taught in the bible.


Many Christian denominations follow a loose hierarchy, with each church lead by a minister and a central board or group that helps guide the churches in practical matters such as membership and various ministries. The Anglican Church modelled itself after the Roman Catholic Church in its hierarchy, but the head of the church does not have the same authority as the pope. The Roman Catholic Church is built on the belief that Jesus established His church with Peter as its head and every pope since is a successor to Peter. The pope is considered the supreme authority on all matter by Catholics. The Church is also made up of Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and priests, all who have different positions and leadership roles.

Worship and Practices

Many Christian practices of worship are similar, in that they all involve some sort of group services, reading Scripture, and practicing other devotions. Some worship services are conducted in a formal church setting while others may be small gatherings in people’s homes. The ideas of the worship are the same—prayer and devotion to God and Jesus. The Catholics follow a much more formal service with the Liturgy being the most important part of the Catholic Mass. The Mass is the same in all Catholic churches and is established by the Church in Rome. It includes the Liturgy and the Eucharist. Sunday is generally the day for most Christians to gather for communal worship because it is the day God rested and the day Jesus was resurrected.

Views on Homosexuality

The difference between Catholic and Christian can also be seen from their views on Homosexuality. Traditionally, most Christians of all denominations have believed that homosexuality is a sin, but in recent history that belief is changing. Many congregations are not only open and accepting of homosexuals in their communities and worship services; some have accepted openly-gay ministers. The Roman Catholic Church still teaches that homosexuality is a sin, going against God and nature and homosexual priests have been censured. Many individual Catholics have different beliefs about homosexuality, however, in their personal lives.

How Did the Difference Between Catholic and Christian Emerge?

The core of Christianity is the belief in one God who is also part of the Holy Trinity. He is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in one. The Son is Jesus who is God made flesh and was sent as a sacrifice for our sins, and then was resurrected. Christians in general also believe that the day will come when we are all judged and the believers will be resurrected as Jesus was and join God in Heaven. There is a firm belief that God can be righteously angry at those who persecute Christians and that they will face judgment just as Christians will.

However, the beliefs of Catholics and Christians start to differ on other matters and have divided Christians into many different denominations, with Catholicism being just one, though the largest one with about sixty percent of Christians being Catholic. There are many who do not realize that the Roman Catholic Church is just one denomination, or sect of Christianity, as is the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the various divisions of Protestantism. The bible used by Catholics and Protestants is the same, but the interpretation differs whether the sect is Baptist, Anglican (The Church of England), Lutheran, Evangelical, Quaker, and so on.

Christians are those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and encompass many sects. Catholics are a sect of Christianity led by the pope in Rome and following the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.


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  • MayowaOct.25 16:42
    Hey! I definitely do NOT agree that Christianity as a whole is becoming more supportive of homosexuality. Just like you said for Catholicism, that's an individual thing. Any person or church who supports it is NOT of God or the Christian church.
  • JamesOOct.23 00:12
    I was reading and thought I would share my thoughts, as one does. It's a long post and for that I do apologise. I am neither Christian or Catholic, nor any religion I know. I hope purhaps a helpful comment might help identify my religion, if any? I believe there is a god. The science and physics of the universe, and even life itself, is too coincidental. However, I believe life is elsewhere in the universe. 12,000 known earth-like planets in the Milky Way. 100,000,000 galaxies in the known universe. So, god is up there watching down on us in this tiny corner of his unthickably large kingdom, why would he want us to succeed? We kill, we multiply, we conquer. He saw this when he came to earth and we killed him in the most horrific way possible; according to your Bible. Since his visit, we burnt 10,000 innocent women at the stake. The crusades were horrific. And now we harness the power of physics and the atom. 80,000 innocent lives were instantly vaporised in Hiroshima. 6,000,000 gassed to death at the hands of the Germans. You think god loves us! That isn't what I think! Good bacteria in my body, and yours, is only there now because it helps our system function. Bad bacteria will continue to conquer until its destruction, or it will eventually destroy its environment creating its own destruction. If you truly believe, like me, that god is everywhere and everything, instead of praying in your Churches and asking for guidance and forgiveness, we should find what our environment will benefit from. Science is the key to that question. Alexandria, a city wealthy with knowledge of astronomy, great learning and new inventions to help better understand our environment. Religion condemned the city and we burnt it to the ground, destroying the worlds largest library containing a copy of every known book! I would not be proud of us if we were mine. I hope we grow up.
  • Tracy SimpsonOct.20 02:21
    All this back and forth between us. Everyone understands things differently. I was not raised up in religion when I was in my thirties I became Catholic and was told that when I became Catholic I was saved. Now I'm doing a Bible study with someone who is Baptist and she says no, you have to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, which I did today. To me it's not just about that, it's about loving your fellow man, being kind even to your enemies, to do for others. What gets me the most about people of faith is they are so judgemental, but yet it's not our place to judge, it's God's
  • Kenya BazemoreOct.14 02:00
    I'm a Christian and my boyfriend is catholic. He converted right before his fathers wedding because he said he felt like he had to make a decision. My boyfriend is a parents boy, so I feel like he did it to make them happy. He gets frustrated when I ask him about things, it just confuses me because his reason to converting was bias and crazy. I'm not degrading any religion but he says he converted because Christian men are cheaters, liars, rapists etc. It confused me because he didn't seem to hear about to priests that molesred children, etc. He chose a religion based on his parents wants. I'm just trying to get a better understanding of the catholic religion because he don't understand it himself.
  • Lisa Oct.12 21:28
    Laura, yes you can, but I would consider getting baptized in a Christian church. It's a little different. I'm glad you're considering Christianity :)
  • DoloresOct.12 19:25
    My problem with Catholics is that according to them there is no such a thing as divorce. So my husbands ex believes they are not divorced in the eyes of the church which is an extrrmely strange thing to believe. We are Methodists so we do not hold the same beliefs. We can substantiate our beliefs with scriptures that states a man can divorce his wife if she commits adultery. As a divorced woman she is also not allowed to use the mass, which has driven her away from the church. Sad indeed.
  • MeghanOct.9 12:12
    I was born and raised a Catholic, going to mass on Sunday and attending private school. Growing up, I never tried to understand anything for myself, I would just believe what I was told. "Meghan, you're a Catholic." It wasn't until my teenage years that I began to think of other beliefs and had a desire to understand other faiths. I stopped attending Catholic mass weekly and would instead go on Easter, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and so forth. I was invited to join several friends to worship with them whether it be at a Baptist Church or a Buddhist Temple. I was exploring myself and seeing what else was out there and how other people put their faith in their God, whatever that may have been. I felt like it was a beautiful thing to see all of these human beings just wanting to extend love and receive forgiveness in various ways. For awhile, I considered the air I breathed to be my God. I then hadn't attended church in years and would rather look within myself and to nature. I would use the laws of Karma and all others relating to that, as those do in the Hindu or Buddhist faiths. I was content, but somehow still lost, thinking of my roots. If someone asks me what I "am", I reply with no hesitation and say, "Catholic." Recently, someone who I care for has come into my life and has given this topic life again for me. He is a "born again Christian" after serving time in jail that stemmed from drug abuse. He was later transferred to a Christian based rehab facility and has since become one with God and Jesus Christ. Loving this man, I'm doing my best to respect his newfound faith in God and perhaps embodying it once again within myself. These things take time. I read this article to see what the differences were between him and myself....Him being a Christian and me being a Catholic, or raised as one. This article helped me a lot and I am eager to continue my journey of understanding. Thank you.
  • john wOct.5 11:58
    God teaches through the Bible, its not any domination or sect that teaches. Why hear echoes of Gods voice from one persons opinion? Read Gods word (the bible) to have a personal relationship with him.
  • Stephanie Oct.3 17:30
    Salvation is NOT received through baptism. All Christians definitely do not believe that is true. It is an outward act and proclamation of your being saved. The act DOES NOT save you.
  • Joanne Oct.2 22:55
    Honestly, I don't understand why people knock and diss things they don't understand. I'm a Catholic and I know it's hard to understand our doctrines but I don't appreciate when people say things like- 'attend a protestant church and you'll know what true religion is' or 'catholics do not understand the bible or interpreted it right?' Really, people? Just who are you to diss a religion older than you. If you don't understand it, fine! If you don't agree with it then fine but don't diss it because of that, okay. I believe we are all Christians- Catholics, protestant, Baptist...whatever. I believe we're all on a journey towards a perfect relationship with Christ but our paths may slightly differ. If u r on the protestant road and i'm on the Catholic road then don't try to tell me that my roads an illusion. We're going in the same direction,okay? Rather than that, concentrate on ur own relationship with God. Thank you.?
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