What Is the Difference Between the Catholic Church and the Church of England?

Some major differences between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England (Anglican) include women, gays and lesbians in the clergy; priests are allowed to marry; and greater local control over churches instead of a strong central authority, according to About.com. The Anglican Church was started by King Henry VIII of England when he split with the pope regarding his divorce.

Unlike the Catholic Church with regard to papal decrees, Anglicans are not bound by decisions made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Communion. Local dioceses have more control over property and doctrine. However, when some churches began ordaining homosexual priests, other churches sought to split with the Anglican Communion and possibly reunite with Catholicism.

Priests are allowed to marry and have sexual relationships, and ordained leaders in the church can be women. Leaders can even remarry after a divorce. These stances set the Church of England apart from Catholicism even further. Priests in a Roman Catholic diocese must be men and must take a vow of celibacy.

Liturgically, Roman Catholic and Anglican services are nearly identical. Both churches recognize saints and follow the same annual church calendar. Priests and bishops wear similar vestments during services. Some aspects of the Church of England predate the Roman Catholic Church’s reforms of the 1960s, making the Anglican Communion more traditional in liturgy than Catholicism.