Difference Between Catholic & Protestant Churches

Written by andrew fontenot
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Martin Luther's 95 Theses, presented in 1517 as an attempt to reform the church, led to the Protestant Reformation. The result was a split in the Christian church, which until that point had followed Catholic tradition and thought. Roman Catholic and Protestant churches have many theological and liturgical differences.

The Bible

The Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible recognise the authority of different texts. Although the core of both books (the Old and New Testaments) are the same, the Catholic Bible recognises additional books Old Testament and New Testament called the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha were left out of the Protestant Bible because their authenticity was in dispute; their publication was thought to have come after the New Testament era had begun.


One of the strongest moves of the Protestant Reformation was the argument made by Luther that all believers were responsible to function like priests. This implicated that all believers should have access to the Scripture in their own language, and that they had the responsibility to understand and implement its teachings.

Catholics believe that the priesthood is limited to a few ordained men. These men have pledged lives of celibacy and service and are responsible for conducting Mass in Latin.

Religious Gatherings

Catholic gatherings, called Masses, are traditionally conducted in Latin, with Communion being the primary activity of the gathering. Regardless of the naive language of the congregants, Mass is typically conducted in Latin.

Protestant churches vary in the ways they fellowship together. However, centralised language is not a feature of a gathering. Protestant gatherings are typically in the native language of the worshippers.


Purgatory is the belief that the souls of those who have died must undergo a process of purification before they are ready to enter heaven. This is a key component of Catholic theology, but it is rejected by nearly all sects of Protestantism. The doctrine originates in 2 Maccabees, a book in the Apocrypha. The typical Protestant belief is that immediately after death, a person's soul ascends into heaven or descends into hell.

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