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Pentecostal vs. Catholic: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 28, 2023
Pentecostalism emphasizes direct personal experience with God through the Holy Spirit; Catholicism centers on tradition, sacraments, and church authority.

Key Differences

Pentecostal Christianity is known for its emphasis on direct personal experiences with God, particularly speaking in tongues and divine healing. In contrast, Catholicism, with its ancient roots, places significant importance on tradition and sacraments, viewing the Church as the primary means of God's grace.
In Pentecostal churches, worship is often charismatic, featuring expressive, spontaneous prayer and praise. Catholic worship, however, is structured around the liturgy and Eucharist, adhering to centuries-old practices and rituals.
Pentecostal theology typically holds a belief in the immediate presence and work of the Holy Spirit. Catholicism, while acknowledging the Holy Spirit, focuses more on the historical continuity of the Church, guided by the Pope and bishops.
Pentecostals often emphasize a personal conversion experience or 'born again' moment. Catholics, on the other hand, emphasize the importance of the sacraments, particularly baptism and confirmation, as lifelong journeys of faith.
The leadership in Pentecostal churches is often more decentralized, with local pastors having significant autonomy. Catholic Church leadership is highly centralized under the Pope and a hierarchical structure of bishops and priests.

Comparison Chart

Word Origin

Derived from Pentecost, the event of the Holy Spirit's descent.
From Greek 'katholikos', meaning 'universal'.


Four (Pen-te-cos-tal)
Three (Cath-o-lic)



Part of Speech

Adjective (also used as a noun for adherents)
Adjective (also used as a noun for adherents)

Use in a Sentence

"She attends a Pentecostal church."
"He follows Catholic traditions."

Pentecostal and Catholic Definitions


Pertaining to churches that stress personal salvation and a direct relationship with God.
He found his faith renewed in the Pentecostal revival.


Pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church, with its traditions and teachings.
The Catholic doctrine emphasizes the importance of the sacraments.


Characterized by expressive worship and charismatic practices.
The Pentecostal congregation sang with vibrant enthusiasm.


Inclusive, universal, or broad in tastes or interests.
She has a Catholic taste in literature, enjoying genres from all over the world.


Relating to Pentecostal Christianity, a movement emphasizing the Holy Spirit's gifts.
Her Pentecostal beliefs led her to speak in tongues during the service.


Connected to the ancient Christian church led by the Pope.
Catholic rituals are deeply rooted in centuries of tradition.


Connected to a Christian movement that arose in the early 20th century.
Pentecostal history traces back to the Azusa Street Revival.


Associated with a global Christian denomination with diverse cultures.
Catholic churches can be found in nearly every country.


Associated with the belief in spiritual gifts like healing and prophecy.
Pentecostal teachings often include discussions on miracles.


Relating to a system of belief accepting varied and universal Christian practices.
His Catholic beliefs incorporate a deep respect for the saints.


Of, relating to, or occurring at Pentecost.


Of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive
"The 100-odd pages of formulas and constants are surely the most catholic to be found" (Scientific American).


Of, relating to, or being any of various Christian religious congregations whose members seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, in emulation of the Apostles at Pentecost.


Including or concerning all humankind; universal
"what was of catholic rather than national interest" (J.A. Froude).


A member of a Pentecostal congregation.


Of or involving the Roman Catholic Church.


Of or pertaining to Pentecost or to Whitsuntide.


Of or relating to the universal Christian church.


Any member of a Pentecostal religious body


Of or relating to the ancient undivided Christian church.


Of or relating to or characteristic of any of various Pentecostal religious bodies or their members


Of or relating to those churches that have claimed to be representatives of the ancient undivided church.


Of or relating to or occurring at Pentecost


A member of a Catholic church, especially a Roman Catholic.


Universal; all-encompassing.


Alternative case form of Catholic.


(obsolete) Common or prevalent; especially universally prevalent.


Embracing all.


Universally applicable.


Of universal human interest or use.


(slang) Permissive of unprotected sex.


Universal or general; as, the catholic faith.
Men of other countries [came] to bear their part in so great and catholic a war.


Not narrow-minded, partial, or bigoted; liberal; as, catholic tastes.


Of or pertaining to, or affecting the Roman Catholics; as, the Catholic emancipation act.


A person who accepts the creeds which are received in common by all parts of the orthodox Christian church.


An adherent of the Roman Catholic church; a Roman Catholic.


A member of a Catholic church


Of or relating to or supporting Catholicism;
The Catholic Church


Free from provincial prejudices or attachments;
Catholic in one's tastes


What is Pentecostalism?

A Christian movement emphasizing direct experiences with God and the Holy Spirit.

Who leads the Catholic Church?

The Pope, supported by bishops, leads the Catholic Church.

Do Pentecostals believe in the Trinity?

Yes, most Pentecostals hold to the doctrine of the Trinity.

Is Pentecostalism a recent movement?

It originated in the early 20th century.

What are Catholic sacraments?

Sacraments in Catholicism are rites seen as imparting divine grace, including baptism and Eucharist.

How do Pentecostals view the end times?

Many Pentecostals have a strong belief in the imminent return of Christ.

Can Pentecostals hold different doctrinal beliefs?

Yes, there is considerable doctrinal diversity within Pentecostalism.

Do Catholics pray to saints?

Catholics venerate saints and may pray for their intercession.

How do Catholics view the Bible?

Catholics see it as holy scripture, interpreted within the Church's tradition.

What role does tradition play in Catholicism?

Tradition is central, alongside scripture, in Catholic belief and practice.

What is the Catholic view of salvation?

Salvation in Catholicism involves both faith and good works, guided by the sacraments.

Do Pentecostals have a central authority?

Unlike Catholicism, Pentecostalism often lacks a centralized authority structure.

Are speaking in tongues common in Pentecostal churches?

Yes, this practice is often associated with Pentecostal worship.

What is the significance of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism?

Mary is highly revered as the mother of Jesus and a model of faith.

What distinguishes Pentecostal worship?

It's known for its emotional, expressive style and openness to spiritual gifts.

Is the Catholic Church hierarchical?

Yes, it has a structured hierarchy led by the Pope.

Are Pentecostals Protestant?

Yes, Pentecostalism is a branch of Protestant Christianity.

What is the Pentecostal stance on baptism?

Pentecostals typically emphasize believer's baptism by immersion.

How do Catholics celebrate mass?

Mass in Catholicism is a liturgical service centered around the Eucharist.

How do Catholics view other Christian denominations?

The Catholic Church recognizes other Christian denominations but sees itself as the true church.
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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