Roman Catholic vs. Mormon: What’s the Difference?

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.

Roman Catholicism
Does Catholicism or Mormonism have more followers? See below

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 CatholicismLDS Church
NameRoman CatholicismChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
SizeApprox. 1.3 billion worldwideApprox. 16 million worldwide
Date Started1st Century AD1830
FounderJesus Christ (according to tradition)Joseph Smith
Key BeliefsTrinity, Papal authority, Seven SacramentsGodhead, Restoration, Eternal Families
Key PracticesMass, Confession, PrayerSacrament meetings, Temple work, Missionary work
DivisionsLatin Church, Eastern Catholic ChurchesNo major divisions; organized into wards and stakes
Central LocationVatican City, RomeSalt Lake City, Utah
Sacred TextsBible, Catechism, Papal EncyclicalsBible, 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 Church
Do Catholics and Mormons believe in the Trinity? See below

Catholic and Mormon Beliefs: Similarities and Differences

Roman CatholicLDS Church
GodOne God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy SpiritGodhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as separate beings
The UniverseCreated by God; fallen due to sinCreated by God; eternal progression possible
Ultimate RealityGod is the ultimate reality; omnipotent, omniscientGod is the ultimate reality; humans can become like God
Human BeingsCreated in God’s image; fallen due to original sinCreated in God’s image; eternal potential
Problem with the WorldSin and separation from GodSin and separation from God; lack of knowledge
The Solution to the ProblemSalvation through faith and works; sacramentsFaith in Jesus Christ, repentance, ordinances, and covenants
The AfterlifeHeaven, Hell, PurgatoryThree 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 CatholicLDS Church
The BibleInfallible when interpreted by the MagisteriumOne of four standard works; open to further revelation
GodOne God in three persons; omnipotent, omniscientGod the Father is a separate being with a physical body
Jesus ChristFully God and fully man; Savior of humanityFully divine, but separate from God the Father; Savior of humanity
The TrinityOne God in three persons; co-equalGodhead consists of three separate beings
The Holy SpiritThird person of the Trinity; active in the worldSeparate being from Father and Son; active in the world
The AtonementChrist’s sacrifice redeems humanityChrist’s sacrifice enables eternal life and exaltation
The ResurrectionLiteral and bodily resurrection of JesusLiteral and bodily resurrection of Jesus
The ChurchOne true church led by the PopeOnly true church restored through Joseph Smith
Church TraditionSacred Tradition and Magisterium importantLess emphasis on tradition; focus on modern revelation
The Second ComingAwaited; details guided by church teachingAwaited; 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.

How do Catholics and Mormons view the sacraments? See below

Differences Between the Bible and the Book of Mormon

BibleBook of Mormon
OriginVarious authors over centuries; Middle EastJoseph Smith; claimed to be translated from golden plates
LanguageOriginally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and GreekOriginally written in English
SectionsOld Testament and New TestamentDivided into books, similar to the Bible
Historical SettingMiddle East; spans creation to early ChristianityAncient Americas; spans about 600 BC to 400 AD
Key FiguresAdam, Moses, David, Jesus, ApostlesLehi, Nephi, Alma, Moroni
TeachingsLaw, History, Wisdom, Gospels, EpistlesHistory, Doctrine, Prophecies, Epistles
Role of Jesus ChristMessiah, Savior, Son of GodMessiah, Savior, visits the Americas
SacrednessCentral text in Judaism and ChristianityCentral text in LDS (Mormon) faith
MiraclesNumerous accountsNumerous 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 ServicesMass; highly liturgicalSacrament meetings; less liturgical
Sacraments/OrdinancesSeven Sacraments: Baptism, Eucharist, etc.Ordinances: Baptism, Sacrament, Endowment, etc.
PrayerFormal prayers like the Rosary; personal prayersPersonal prayers; family prayers
ClergyPriests, bishops; celibate clergyLay clergy; bishops, stake presidents
Church GovernanceHierarchical; led by the PopeHierarchical; led by the President of the Church
Bible StudyEncouraged; part of catechismEncouraged; alongside other scriptures
FastingDuring Lent and specific daysMonthly fast days; fast offerings
MusicTraditional hymns; choral musicHymns; some contemporary music
Social OutreachCharitable work; social justice initiativesWelfare program; humanitarian aid

Comparing the Catholic and Mormon Views of the Sacraments

Catholic ViewMormon View
Number of SacramentsSeven: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, etc.Ordinances rather than sacraments; includes Baptism, Sacrament, Endowment, etc.
Role in SalvationMeans of grace; essential for salvationNecessary for eternal life and exaltation
Who Can AdministerOrdained clergyPriesthood holders
Age of ParticipationVaries; Baptism usually as infantsBaptism at age 8 or older; other ordinances vary
FrequencyVaries; Eucharist often weeklySacrament usually weekly; other ordinances once or as needed
FormalityHighly ritualisticLess ritualistic but still formal
AuthorityAdministered under the authority of the PopeAdministered under the authority of the Church President

10 Key Events in Catholic and Mormon History

1Council of Nicaea, 325 ADFounding of the Church, 1830
2Great Schism, 1054First Vision of Joseph Smith, 1820
3Crusades, 1095-1291Publication of the Book of Mormon, 1830
4Inquisition, 13th CenturyNauvoo Period and Temple, 1839-1846
5Council of Trent, 1545-1563Martyrdom of Joseph Smith, 1844
6Counter-Reformation, 16th CenturyPioneer Trek to Utah, 1846-1847
7Vatican I, 1869-1870Organization of the Relief Society, 1842
8Vatican II, 1962-1965Official end to Plural Marriage, 1890
9Papal Infallibility declared, 1870Revelation on Priesthood, 1978
10Election of Pope Francis, 2013Construction of Salt Lake Temple, 1893

[1] The Vatican
[2] The LDS Church

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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