catholic and anglican titles

Catholic and Anglican Titles

Catholic and Anglican Titles – Church Clergy Titles

ADDucation’s list of clerical Catholic and Anglican titles shows the approximate equivalents across both churches and compares their hierarchy. We have explained the various roles and where the names for members of the church clergy are derived from along with an overview of the “ranks” within both churches.

One common FAQ is: “What is the difference between the Anglican and Catholic church?” The short answer is not that much! Both derive from 2000 year-old Christian roots founded by Jesus Christ in Judea. Although “Anglican” means “of England”, the Anglican church has spread worldwide through English colonization and missionaries.

Another FAQ is: “Are Anglicans Protestant?” The answer is yes and no. Today, the term Protestant more denotes any Christians who are not subject to papal authority, so in that sense, yes. But it would be more accurate to describe Anglicans as “Catholic without the Pope“, i.e. non “Roman“, as they have many differences to the more classic Lutheran Protestantism of German origin.

Anglican Church Roots - Roman and English Church Split

Anglican Church Origins – Why the English Church Split From the Church of Rome

The Anglican church has its roots in the 6th century in England, when St. Augustine was sent to Britain to discipline Celtic Christians. There was constant conflict between the church and the state after then. For example, the murder of Thomas a Becket, and the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 by King John, that declared the English church to be independent of its government. Matters came to a head during Henry VIII’s reign when his general frustration at interference from Rome turned to anger after the pope refused Henry VIII permission to divorce Catherine of Aragon, and he finally split the English church entirely from the Roman church.

The longer answer on the differences includes numerous issues regarding the church hierarchy, celibacy, rituals, bell ringing, bread and wine which are way beyond the scope of this introduction.

List of Catholic and Anglican titles

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Title (etymology) Role in Roman Catholic Church Role in Anglican Church
Approximate ranking: God, Pope, cardinal, archbishop, bishop, priest, deacon. Jesus Christ (head of the church), Queen Elizabeth II (supreme governor), Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishops of Wales / York, bishop, archdeacon, deacon, priest, dean, canon (or prebendary), vicar, rector, chaplain, curate.
Archbishop Head bishop. Office occupied mainly by a bishop in charge of metropolitan and some titular sees. A bishop who supervises several dioceses (a province) usually over a large region. 3 in total – Archbishops of Canterbury (spiritual leader of Anglicans worldwide), York, & Wales.
Archdeacon Formerly a senior official who assisted the bishop in non-spiritual matters (like an Executive Assistant). The role is nowadays performed by qualified laypersons or vicars, deans, etc. Senior clergy who assist the bishop with administration matters (e.g. responsibility for [church] buildings, welfare issues etc.). Often seen as the extended eyes and ears of the bishop.
Bishop (overseer, elder) Sacramental position (baptism, confession, marriage etc.). Considered successors of the Apostles. Teachers of doctrine. The Pope is also a bishop. Oversees a group of congregations & priests (“diocese”).  Must first have been a priest.
Canon (rule) Members of a cathedral chapter. Honorary title for clergy or lay persons for long or distinguished services to the church.
Cardinal (hinge, as in “pivotal”) Office occupied by bishops. “Princes of the Church” appointed by the Pope.
Chaplain (cloak) Clergy member outside of a parish who organizes worship within non-religious organizations (hospitals, school, military). Clergy member outside of a parish who organizes worship within non-religious organizations (hospitals, school, military).
Curate (cure or care of souls) Senior priest of a parish. Administrative position. A deacon or priest who assists a parish Incumbent.
Deacon (servant) Sacramental position (baptism, confession, marriage etc.). Transitional: Students who become priests after a year. Permanent: Those not wishing to become a priest. Role: to assist the pastor with teaching, parish work and counseling. Proclaims the Gospel, assists at Holy Communion.
Dean (head of ten) Title given to senior pastors without diocesal authority. Expected to lead local pastors to some extent. Senior vicar in charge of a cathedral & most senior priest of a diocese (dener) under the bishop.
Father Form of address for some clergymen wishing to identify themselves as members of the Catholic church. Used only by invitation.
Incumbent (lie down) Term for responsible clergy member in a parish or congregation. More commonly termed “rector”.
Minister (servant) Not a rank but a person performing an act for the Church. Also used to denote various clergy (priests, bishops etc.). Authorized to perform religious functions.
Monsignor (my lord) Office occupied by priests. Honorary title conferred by the Pope on priests who are adopted into the papal household.
Parson (person [in charge of church]) Term for any clergy member. Historically salaried priest with parish.
Pastor (shepherd / feeder) A priest who has been entrusted with a parish by a bishop. In UK also “minister”. Spiritual leader of a congregation. Unofficially used for “Rector” or “Incumbent”.
Pope (father) Special bishop who has power to make binding decisions for all Catholics. Sacramental position to a degree. Vicar of Christ & Supreme Pontiff. Viewed as successor of St Peter (chief of the Apostles) and head of the College of Bishops.
Presiding Bishop US equivalent of Primate – Anglican bishop presiding over the Church in a large region or nation.
Priest (church elder) Sacramental position (baptism, confession, marriage etc.). Ordained men who consecrate and offer the body and blood of Christ in the Mass & mediate from the people to God. Someone who stands in place of Christ (like a vicar) but who offers a sacrifice (the Eucharist or body of Christ). Can absolve from sin. Must previously have been a deacon.
Primate (chief) Usually title for first or oldest bishop in country. A bishop presiding over the Church in a large region or nation. US equivalent: “Presiding Bishop”.
Rector (put straight) Person presiding over an ecclesiastical institution. Historical title, basically the same as a vicar; a priest with primary administrative & pastoral duties in a congregation.
Reverend (respect) Term of address for clergymen (e.g. The Reverend Deacon, The Reverend Canon etc.? Term of address for clergymen (e.g. The Reverend Deacon, The Reverend Canon etc.?
Vicar (substitute, vicarious) Representative of any ecclesiastic entity. UK: A salaried parish priest. US: A priest responsible for a “mission” or an institutional chapel. Someone who stands in place of Christ (like a priest). Role varies according to church.

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