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Thomas Ryan, CSP Answers:
Question: What is the difference in belief between Roman Catholics and Episcopalians? I was once told, “All the ceremony and half the guilt” but there must be more to it than that.
Indeed, there is more to it than that, though your pithy line has some validity to it as far as it goes. A large part of the Episcopal Church (its styles vary from the simple to the elaborate, from Evangelical to Catholic) has retained rich and reverent ceremony as part of its catholic heritage. And since the locus of authoritative teaching authority is less clear in the Episcopal Church than in the Roman Catholic Church, there may well be less guilt around not following church teachings.
Belief-wise, Episcopalians (Anglicans) uphold and proclaim the Catholic and Apostolic faith, based on the creeds and scripture, interpreted in the light of Christian tradition, scholarship, and reason. They recognize seven sacraments and hold the same moral values.
Differences relate to recognition of the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome (the pope) as holding an authoritative teaching office for the whole church; the ordination of women as deacons, priests, and bishops; contraception, divorce and remarriage.
Fr. Thomas Ryan, C.S.P. is the director for the Paulist Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs