Old Catholic, Roman Catholic and Protestant

Comparison between Old Catholic, Roman Catholic and Protestant beliefs

The table below aims to give an outline of how the three traditions view these issues.

Topic 1                    Old Catholic 2               Roman Catholic 3                Protestant
Source of Revelation The source of Revelation is Sacred Scripture and primitive apostolic tradition, which ended upon the adoption of the Canonical Scriptures of the New Testament (around 200 AD). The source of Revelation is the Sacred Scripture and Tradition maintained by the infallible magisterium of the Church to the present day. The source of Revelation is Sacred Scripture alone.
Scripture Sacred Scripture is the text of Revelation, written by humans under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and guarded by the Church through which the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the language of the Holy Spirit. Sacred Scripture is the text written by humans under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and guarded by the Church which continues the Revelation. Certain: As 1
Others: Sacred Scripture is a text conditioned by historical evolution, written by humans alone who speak from God and about God regarding an exemplary way of life.
Tradition The doctrinal tradition of the Church explains Sacred Scripture. It is incomplete in what it contains. Through Tradition, the Church speaks to us and continues as the mother of the faithful. This is why it curtails errors. (Through Tradition, one is able to understand the language of the Church which provides The Promise and Sacraments through time). The doctrinal Tradition explains the Sacred Scripture and completes it and continues it under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is why Sacred Scripture and Tradition must be received with the same profound respect. Certain: As 1
Others: The Tradition of the Church is purely human. One is able to listen to it, but one is not under any obligation to follow it.
Church’s Magiste- rium
The Church exercises its own supreme magisterium in general councils. These manifest one obligatory path for all who are of the Christian faith, starting with Sacred Scripture and primitive Apostolic Tradition. It belongs to the communion of Bishops to look after so that the bases of faith are maintained. But each member of the Church is equally responsible for faithful adherence to the faith. The supreme magisterium is Pope’s exercise: “through him alone, without the consent of the Church” decides the infallible path as obligatory for those of the Christian faith, starting with Sacred Scripture and Tradition. His decisions alone must be received by the faithful with submission. Certain: The magisterium is exercised through many eminent authorities of the national church, who must look after so that the bases of faith are maintained.
Others: There is no supreme magisterium of the Church. The ultimate decision of faith are left entirely to everyone’s conscience.
Bases of faith
The bases of faith are the Symboles oecumeniques (the symbols des Apotres and those of Nicean-Constantinople) as well as those recognized as dogmas of the councils of the undivided Church during the first millennium. The main dogmas of these are the Trinity and the divine and human nature of Christ. As 1
Additions: Decisions of further general councils of the West. Catholic Church, of which the principle ones are the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council. The former (1545-1563) made an important position on the rule of faith concerning Sacred Scripture and Tradition as well as salvation (justification). The latter (1870) concerned faith and reason and the Pope.
Certain: As 1
Additions: The confessions of faith written by the 16th C. Reformers, the principles ones being: The Confession of Augsburg (Lutheran) (1530), the Catechism of Heidelberg (1563) and the Second Confession of Switzerland (1566) (only two amendments). On these is established the principle of Sacred Scripture and salvation (justification).
And Others: Faith is established only on the confession of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
The Church
The Church is the Community – visible and invisible – of baptized faithful who, under the sovereignty of Christ, are saved and made holy by His grace and they remain faithfully attached to apostolic essentials in matters of doctrine, law, and worship. The Church is a visible communion of humans who are bound together by the confession of the same faith, participation in the same sacraments under the leadership of legitimate pastors, principally the Pope of Rome. The Church is the community of the truthful faithful reassembled under the invisible head, Jesus Christ, a community within whom, the Church is proclaimed in His own purity and administers the sacraments under the will of Christ.
Others: The Church is a human society which, founded on the Bible, is for the service of a religious way of life.
The Worship Service
The focus of the Sunday worship service is preaching and the sacrament. Both are equally necessary. The sacrament is at the heart of the worship service. The sermon is today required for Sunday worship, but not in the mass necessary as the sacrament. a) Certain: As 1
Others: The sermon is at the heart of the service. The Eucharist is only celebrated on special occasions (on festive days).
The Ministry a) So that the Church is able to perform its mission, Christ Himself gave the ministry to His Apostles. This is a divine right. The ministry He saw transmitted by the imposition of hands with the invocation of the Holy Spirit. The laity are of the general priesthood which they received through Baptism and Confirmation.
b) The ministry has three orders: diaconate, priest, bishop. In light of the unity and universality of the Church, bishops transmit the ministry (Apostolic Succession).
a) As 1
b) Addition: The priest is a sacrificer and whose bishop, through his own special power, is placed over the priest, just as was the High Priest of the Ancient Alliance.
a) Certain: As 1
Others: The imposition of hands is not the transmission of the priesthood. It is not a sign of either the evidence which they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in light of the ministry or that possible hereafter installs one within the service of the church.
And Others: The ministry is a human institution with view of performing the divine mission.
b) The ministry comes down to those who are the Church. The episcopacy is a human powder. By virtue of a universal priesthood, a believer is authorized to proclaim the Church and administer the Sacraments.
The Pope The Pope is the first bishop of many bishops equal to them (primus inter pars). He is above the other bishops and patriarchs. The primacy of honor and service has been conferred by the Church. His own primacy is an ecclesiastical right. The Papacy is based on the institution of Christ and it is a divine right. As each is an individual successor of Apostle Peter, the Pope exercises over the entire Church a universal authority and enjoys the doctrine of infallibility. Certain: The papacy is rejected under whatever form it may be.
Others: The papacy is a human institution which has imposed itself in the course of history as one common spiritual authority and which is held as such.
Salvation The sacrifice of Christ and His resurrection are our liberation from all error and our ability to enter into divine alliance. We are absolved and saved through the Church itself. Having been saved, our becoming, through the Holy Spirit, we are cooperators with God on whose authority we share in His life and divine action (and are made holy). We comply with salvation through faith (by salvation), faith which manifests itself in love (in holiness). At the Last Judgment, we will be judged on the foundation of justification alone. On the basis of the infinite merits which Jesus Christ acquired for us through his own sacrifice, and accordingly as the Most High renders them efficacious for us, we are replenished by justice which has its worth in the eye of God. It is in this sense that we are made upright. Certain: As 1
Others: On the basis of the sacrifice of Christ, we are declared by God free from all error. Our lives are sinful, it is true, but the justice which Christ acquired for us is ascribed to us by God. We are saved alone by faith in the atoning death of Christ. Our holiness consists by manifesting in the eye of the world the signs of our salvation through obedience and our good works as well as the grace given by God.
Veneration of Saints All members of the Church are saints by the grace of Christ. Among those who distinguished themselves have attained perfection, the Church venerates them, celebrates their memory, and resorts to them for their intercession for the Church on Earth. As 1
Addition: that it is proper to solicit the aid of certain saints for personal wants.
Certain: As 1
Others: All veneration of saints is rejected.
Mary We profess the doctrine proclaimed by the ecumenical Symboles and the third ecumenical council that proclaimed Mary is the Virgin Mother of God. There is the right to venerate (not adore) and love her. As 1
Addition: the two new Roman dogmas of the Immaculate Conception (1854) and the Assumption of the Body of Mary (1950).
Certain: As 1
Others: Reject the Virgin Birth of Christ.
Sacraments A sacrament is a visible sign instituted by God, to which sign is bound invisible grace. It is faith alone that causes the grace of the sacrament to be efficacious As 1
Addition: that it is by their own virtue (ex opere operato) that the sacraments produce the invisible grace among the faithful who do not make a hindrance.
Certain: As 1
Others: The action of the sacraments occurs by the faith (alone) of those who receive them.
Names of Sacraments The Sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Unction of the Sick, Orders, Marriage. The most important ones: Baptism and Eucharist. As 1 Certain: Baptism, the Eucharist, and Penance.
Others: Only Baptism and the Eucharist. Among the other sacraments, certain ones such as Penance, Orders, Marriage are considered all useful institutions (willed by God). Others, such as Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick are human inventions.
Baptism Baptism is the sacrament which transmits the redemptive death of Christ to work for the remission of sins and a new birth in the Holy Spirit. As 1 Certain: As 1
Others: Baptism is a sign instituted by Christ, a sign through which those who believe receive the assurance of pardon and new life.
The Eucharist a) The Eucharist is a sacred meal through which the unique sacrifice of Christ is represented and brought into the present. The faithful who receive this sacrament partake in the Body and Blood of Christ.
b) Regarding the Eucharistic species, Christ is totally present at the same time as His Body and Blood (real presence). The person who receives the Eucharist with faith, enters communion in life with Christ and all those who are redeemed.
a) As 1
Addition: that the Eucharist is an atonement sacrifice through which the death of Christ on the cross is renewed in an unbloody way. This sacrifice is offered to God by the priest to obtain one’s pardon for the living and dead.
b) As 1
Addition: the doctrine according to which the bread and wine are changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ (transubstantiation).
a) The Eucharist is a memorial of the unique sacrifice of Christ through which we are saved. It is so much a memorial, the Eucharist is not the same as a sacrifice.
b) Certain: As 1
Others: Christ, who is in heaven, is not present in the Eucharist, but present only through the Holy Spirit.
Penance Penance is the sacrament through which to those who have faith, desire to repent, receive pardon for all those sins committed since their Baptism. This sacrament is administered in the form of general confession of the people or in private confession in the presence of a priest. As 1
Additions: Confession of certain (grave) sins ought to be made in the presence of a priest in order to receive the sacrament (auricular confession is obligatory).
Certain: As 1
Others: Confession is a practice of spiritual direction, but not a sacrament.
The Last Judgment The dead enter an intermediate state where Christ’s grace purifies them. The foreknowledge of the future produces among those who have lived in faith and obedience a state of felicity and peace, among others, a state of fear and dread. Christ who is to come at the end of time will give them final judgment to the living and dead. Those the Lord calls to eternal happiness move to the just. The unrepentant will be transformed entirely for the establishment of the Kingdom. Immediately after death, the souls of the unrepentant sinners enter into a state of total absence of God and unhappiness (Hell). Others, before being admitted into Heaven, go to Purgatory where they are cleansed by punishment due to their sins. Only those elect (saints and martyrs) go directly to Heaven. Then at the general resurrection, the souls of the dead are reunited with their bodies. The kingdom of God will be accomplished. Certain: As 1
Others: There is not any intermediate state. The souls of the faithful enter directly into Heaven by the grace of God. Whereas the unrepentant sinners are put aside for judgment. The return of Christ introduces the Kingdom by his achievement, this will be the establishment of the Kingdom of the Spirit.
Topic Old Catholic  Roman Catholic Protestant
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