What Is the Difference Between a Catholic and a Protestant?

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Some of these differences between Catholics and Protestants include their beliefs about what happens when followers take communion and the role of Jesus Christ’s mother, Mary. Catholics also follow an infallible leader, the Pope.

One of the biggest differences between the two denominations is that Catholics believe that the communion elements, the wine and bread, mysteriously become the real body and blood of Christ, which is called transubstantiation. Protestant denominations vary on what happens to the elements during communion, but they don’t believe in transubstantiation.

The role of Mary is different in the Catholic Church. She has a much more elevated position as the symbol of motherhood and a role model of Christian perfection for women. Catholics believe Mary ascended into heaven in much the same manner as Christ when his time on Earth was over.

The Roman Catholic Pope is considered God’s emissary on Earth. The Pope has the ability to change dogma about church beliefs.

Tradition is more important to Catholics than to Protestants. Although most Protestant denominations believe that tradition informs their beliefs, it is a little lower down on the scale. The Bible, reason and experience are also ways that Christians develop their faith. They are held in higher regard than tradition in most Protestant denominations.