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Catholics vs. Christians: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 4, 2024
All Catholics are Christians, as Catholicism is a denomination within Christianity, but not all Christians are Catholics, as Christianity includes various other denominations.

Key Differences

Catholics are members of the Roman Catholic Church, led by the Pope in Vatican City. This denomination emphasizes tradition, sacraments, and the authority of the church. Christians refer to all individuals who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, which includes Catholics but also encompasses other denominations like Protestants, Orthodox, etc.
In worship practices, Catholics often participate in a liturgical style with rituals like Mass and the Eucharist. They have a strong focus on the Virgin Mary and the Saints. Christians, in a broader sense, may have varying worship styles, ranging from the structured liturgies of Orthodoxy to the more informal gatherings of Protestant groups.
Catholics adhere to the authority of the Pope and believe in the infallibility of the Pope when he speaks ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. In contrast, other Christian denominations do not recognize papal authority and often rely more on individual interpretation of the Bible.
The Catholic Church teaches salvation through faith and works, including adherence to church teachings and participation in sacraments. Many other Christian denominations, especially Protestant ones, emphasize salvation through faith alone, focusing more on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Catholics have a unique set of beliefs regarding purgatory, the veneration of saints, and the immaculate conception of Mary. These beliefs are not shared by all Christian denominations, with many Protestant groups, for example, rejecting these concepts entirely.

Comparison Chart


A denomination within Christianity
The broader religion encompassing all believers


Pope as the spiritual leader
Various leaders, depending on the denomination

Worship Style

Liturgical with emphasis on rituals
Varies by denomination, from liturgical to informal


Papal authority and church tradition
Diverse, often with more emphasis on the Bible

Salvation Beliefs

Through faith and works, including sacraments
Often through faith alone in many denominations

Catholics and Christians Definitions


Observers of sacred sacraments.
Baptism is a significant sacrament for Catholics.


People centered on faith in Christ.
Christians often emphasize a personal relationship with Jesus.


Members of the Roman Catholic Church.
Catholics around the world look to the Pope for guidance.


A group with diverse denominations.
Christians include Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox.


A worldwide religious community.
Catholics celebrate Christmas with great joy globally.


Followers guided by the Bible.
Christians study the Bible for spiritual guidance.


Adherents with a rich tradition in rituals.
Catholics often participate in the traditional Mass.


Individuals who follow Jesus Christ.
Christians gather on Sundays for worship.


Followers of specific doctrinal teachings.
Catholics believe in the infallibility of the Pope.


Participants in various forms of worship.
Christians worship in churches, homes, and community centers.


Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.


Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.


Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus, especially in showing concern for others.


Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.


One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.


One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.


Plural of christian


Do Catholics and Christians read the same Bible?

Generally, yes, but Catholics include additional books in the Old Testament.

Is the Pope important to all Christians?

He is central to Catholics, but not to all Christian denominations.

Do Catholics and other Christians celebrate the same holidays?

Many major holidays like Easter and Christmas are shared, though some observances may differ.

Is baptism practiced differently among Catholics and other Christians?

The basic belief in baptism is shared, but the age and method can vary.

What distinguishes Catholics from other Christians?

Catholics follow the Roman Catholic Church's teachings, distinct rituals, and papal authority.

How do Catholics view Mary compared to other Christians?

Catholics venerate Mary more significantly, including beliefs like the Immaculate Conception, not shared by all Christians.

Are the prayers different between Catholics and other Christians?

While there are common prayers, Catholics have unique prayers like the Rosary.

Can someone be Christian but not Catholic?

Yes, as Christians include various denominations beyond Catholicism, like Protestant and Orthodox.

How does church governance differ between Catholics and other Christians?

Catholics have a hierarchical structure with the Pope at the top, unlike many Protestant churches.

Do all Christians believe in purgatory like Catholics?

Purgatory is a specifically Catholic doctrine and is not universally accepted among other Christians.

What is the Catholic view on salvation?

Catholics believe in salvation through faith and good works, including adherence to sacraments.

Do Catholics and other Christians have different views on the Bible's interpretation?

Yes, Catholics often rely on church tradition and teaching for interpretation, while many other Christians emphasize personal interpretation.

Is the Eucharist viewed the same in Catholicism and other Christian denominations?

Catholics believe in transubstantiation, while other Christians have varying beliefs about the Eucharist.

How do Catholics and other Christians approach confession?

Confession is a formal sacrament in Catholicism, whereas other Christians may confess directly to God or in a less formal setting.

Do all Christian denominations have clergy like the Catholic priesthood?

Many do, but the role and function of clergy can differ significantly.

Is the approach to social issues the same among Catholics and other Christians?

There can be significant differences based on varying interpretations of scripture and doctrine.

What role do saints play in Catholicism vs. other Christian faiths?

Saints are more prominently venerated in Catholicism for intercession and as role models.

How do Protestant Christians differ in their view of salvation?

Many emphasize salvation through faith alone, not by works.

Can a Catholic marry a non-Catholic Christian?

Yes, but it may require certain considerations and permissions within the Catholic Church.

Are there different versions of the Ten Commandments for Catholics and other Christians?

The content is largely the same, but the numbering and emphasis can vary.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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