Roman Catholicism and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also called Mormonism, are two distinct branches of Christianity with unique histories, beliefs, and practices.
This article compares Catholicism and the LDS Church, highlighting key differences and similarities.
From their origins to their views on sacred texts, the nature of God, to many other topics, we’ll explore what sets each apart.
Keep reading for a comprehensive look into these traditions.
Comparing Catholicism and the LDS Church
“Roman Catholicism” combines “Roman” to signify the church’s base in Rome and “Catholicism,” meaning universal.
“Mormonism” comes from the Book of Mormon, a key text for the faith. “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” refers to followers of Christ in these “latter days.”
|Roman Catholicism||LDS Church|
|Name||Roman Catholicism||Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints|
|Size||Approx. 1.3 billion worldwide||Approx. 16 million worldwide|
|Date Started||1st Century AD||1830|
|Founder||Jesus Christ (according to tradition)||Joseph Smith|
|Key Beliefs||Trinity, Papal authority, Seven Sacraments||Godhead, Restoration, Eternal Families|
|Key Practices||Mass, Confession, Prayer||Sacrament meetings, Temple work, Missionary work|
|Divisions||Latin Church, Eastern Catholic Churches||No major divisions; organized into wards and stakes|
|Central Location||Vatican City, Rome||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Sacred Texts||Bible, Catechism, Papal Encyclicals||Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price|
What is Restoration in Mormon theology?
In Mormonism, Restoration refers to the belief that the original church of Jesus Christ has been restored in modern times through the prophet Joseph Smith.
This restoration is seen as a return to true Christian doctrine and practices, including priesthood authority and additional scriptures like the Book of Mormon.
What does Papul Authority mean in Catholicism?
Papal Authority in Catholicism refers to the belief that the Pope, as the Bishop of Rome, holds supreme authority over the Church.
This includes the power to make decisions on doctrine, governance, and moral teachings. The Pope is considered the successor to Saint Peter, the first bishop of Rome.
Catholic and Mormon Beliefs: Similarities and Differences
|Roman Catholic||LDS Church|
|God||One God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit||Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as separate beings|
|The Universe||Created by God; fallen due to sin||Created by God; eternal progression possible|
|Ultimate Reality||God is the ultimate reality; omnipotent, omniscient||God is the ultimate reality; humans can become like God|
|Human Beings||Created in God’s image; fallen due to original sin||Created in God’s image; eternal potential|
|Problem with the World||Sin and separation from God||Sin and separation from God; lack of knowledge|
|The Solution to the Problem||Salvation through faith and works; sacraments||Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, ordinances, and covenants|
|The Afterlife||Heaven, Hell, Purgatory||Three degrees of glory; eternal families|
Do Mormons believe in the Trinity?
Mormons do not believe in the traditional concept of the Trinity, where God is one being in three persons.
Instead, they believe in the Godhead, a trio of separate beings: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Each has their own distinct role and physical presence.
|Roman Catholic||LDS Church|
|The Bible||Infallible when interpreted by the Magisterium||One of four standard works; open to further revelation|
|God||One God in three persons; omnipotent, omniscient||God the Father is a separate being with a physical body|
|Jesus Christ||Fully God and fully man; Savior of humanity||Fully divine, but separate from God the Father; Savior of humanity|
|The Trinity||One God in three persons; co-equal||Godhead consists of three separate beings|
|The Holy Spirit||Third person of the Trinity; active in the world||Separate being from Father and Son; active in the world|
|The Atonement||Christ’s sacrifice redeems humanity||Christ’s sacrifice enables eternal life and exaltation|
|The Resurrection||Literal and bodily resurrection of Jesus||Literal and bodily resurrection of Jesus|
|The Church||One true church led by the Pope||Only true church restored through Joseph Smith|
|Church Tradition||Sacred Tradition and Magisterium important||Less emphasis on tradition; focus on modern revelation|
|The Second Coming||Awaited; details guided by church teaching||Awaited; precedes a Millennium of peace|
What is Jesus’ relationship to Satan in Mormonism?
In Mormon belief, Jesus and Satan are considered spirit brothers, as they were both created by God the Father in the pre-mortal existence.
While Jesus followed the Father’s plan, Satan rebelled against it, leading to their vastly different roles in theology and the human experience.
What is the Magisterium in Catholicism?
In Catholicism, the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church, exercised by the Pope and bishops.
It interprets and preserves doctrine, ensuring consistency in teachings on moral and theological issues.
The Magisterium is considered the final arbiter in interpreting the Bible and Sacred Tradition.
Differences Between the Bible and the Book of Mormon
|Bible||Book of Mormon|
|Origin||Various authors over centuries; Middle East||Joseph Smith; claimed to be translated from golden plates|
|Language||Originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek||Originally written in English|
|Sections||Old Testament and New Testament||Divided into books, similar to the Bible|
|Historical Setting||Middle East; spans creation to early Christianity||Ancient Americas; spans about 600 BC to 400 AD|
|Key Figures||Adam, Moses, David, Jesus, Apostles||Lehi, Nephi, Alma, Moroni|
|Teachings||Law, History, Wisdom, Gospels, Epistles||History, Doctrine, Prophecies, Epistles|
|Role of Jesus Christ||Messiah, Savior, Son of God||Messiah, Savior, visits the Americas|
|Sacredness||Central text in Judaism and Christianity||Central text in LDS (Mormon) faith|
|Miracles||Numerous accounts||Numerous accounts|
What are the golden plates in Mormonism?
In Mormonism, the golden plates are the source material for the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith claimed to have translated them from an ancient language.
The plates are considered a sacred record of peoples in the Americas and are central to the church’s history and doctrine.
Contrasting Catholic and Mormon Practices
|Worship Services||Mass; highly liturgical||Sacrament meetings; less liturgical|
|Sacraments/Ordinances||Seven Sacraments: Baptism, Eucharist, etc.||Ordinances: Baptism, Sacrament, Endowment, etc.|
|Prayer||Formal prayers like the Rosary; personal prayers||Personal prayers; family prayers|
|Clergy||Priests, bishops; celibate clergy||Lay clergy; bishops, stake presidents|
|Church Governance||Hierarchical; led by the Pope||Hierarchical; led by the President of the Church|
|Bible Study||Encouraged; part of catechism||Encouraged; alongside other scriptures|
|Fasting||During Lent and specific days||Monthly fast days; fast offerings|
|Music||Traditional hymns; choral music||Hymns; some contemporary music|
|Social Outreach||Charitable work; social justice initiatives||Welfare program; humanitarian aid|
Comparing the Catholic and Mormon Views of the Sacraments
|Catholic View||Mormon View|
|Number of Sacraments||Seven: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, etc.||Ordinances rather than sacraments; includes Baptism, Sacrament, Endowment, etc.|
|Role in Salvation||Means of grace; essential for salvation||Necessary for eternal life and exaltation|
|Who Can Administer||Ordained clergy||Priesthood holders|
|Age of Participation||Varies; Baptism usually as infants||Baptism at age 8 or older; other ordinances vary|
|Frequency||Varies; Eucharist often weekly||Sacrament usually weekly; other ordinances once or as needed|
|Formality||Highly ritualistic||Less ritualistic but still formal|
|Authority||Administered under the authority of the Pope||Administered under the authority of the Church President|
10 Key Events in Catholic and Mormon History
|1||Council of Nicaea, 325 AD||Founding of the Church, 1830|
|2||Great Schism, 1054||First Vision of Joseph Smith, 1820|
|3||Crusades, 1095-1291||Publication of the Book of Mormon, 1830|
|4||Inquisition, 13th Century||Nauvoo Period and Temple, 1839-1846|
|5||Council of Trent, 1545-1563||Martyrdom of Joseph Smith, 1844|
|6||Counter-Reformation, 16th Century||Pioneer Trek to Utah, 1846-1847|
|7||Vatican I, 1869-1870||Organization of the Relief Society, 1842|
|8||Vatican II, 1962-1965||Official end to Plural Marriage, 1890|
|9||Papal Infallibility declared, 1870||Revelation on Priesthood, 1978|
|10||Election of Pope Francis, 2013||Construction of Salt Lake Temple, 1893|
Exploring the world's religions using the comparison charts below offers fascinating insights into cultures and beliefs. It opens doors to understanding human history, values, and...
Roman Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, and the Eastern Orthodox Church are the three historical branches of the Christian religion. Each tradition traces its doctrines and practices to the New...