How Is LDS Different From Catholic?

Are you curious about the distinctions between the LDS (Latter-day Saints) and Catholicism? The contrasting beliefs, practices, and traditions of these two religious groups can be fascinating to explore. While both share certain foundational aspects, such as belief in God and teachings from the Bible, there are significant variations that make each faith unique. From the organization of their clergy to their views on scripture, this article provides an insightful comparison of how LDS differs from Catholic. So, let’s dive in and discover the distinguishing characteristics that set these two religions apart.

Beliefs and Doctrines

God and Jesus Christ

In the LDS (Latter-day Saints) tradition, God is viewed as a loving Heavenly Father who is the literal father of our spirits. Mormons believe in the concept of a Heavenly Mother as well, although she is not as prominently discussed. They believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ and view him as the literal Son of God and the savior of all mankind. The Catholic beliefs, on the other hand, adhere to the traditional understanding of the Christian doctrine of God and Jesus Christ. They believe in the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.

Authority and Leadership

The LDS Church teaches that it is guided by a living prophet and apostles who receive revelation from God. This concept is known as ongoing revelation, and it allows for continued guidance and direction from God through modern-day prophets. In Catholicism, authority and leadership are centralized in the Pope, who is regarded as the successor of Peter and the head of the universal Church. The Catholic Church believes in the infallibility of the Pope when speaking ex cathedra, or from the chair of Peter, on matters of faith and morals.

Sacraments and Rituals

LDS members participate in ordinances such as baptism and confirmation, as well as sacred rituals performed in their temples. These rituals include the endowment ceremony, sealings (marriages that are believed to continue into the afterlife), and baptisms for the dead. In Catholicism, there are seven sacraments, including baptism, confirmation, Eucharist (Holy Communion), reconciliation (confession), anointing of the sick, marriage, and holy orders. These sacraments are seen as essential for spiritual growth and salvation.

Salvation and Afterlife

For LDS members, salvation is seen as a process of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, keeping the commandments, and receiving necessary ordinances. They believe in multiple levels of heaven, where individuals can progress based on their faithfulness and obedience. Catholics believe in the sacraments as a means of receiving God’s grace, which they believe is necessary for salvation. They also believe in the concept of purgatory, a temporary state of purification for souls destined for heaven.


LDS Scriptures

In addition to the Bible, which is considered divine scripture by both LDS and Catholics, the LDS Church also recognizes the Book of Mormon as holy scripture. They believe it was translated by Joseph Smith and contains the writings of ancient prophets in the Americas. The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are other scriptures considered canon by the LDS Church.

Catholic Scriptures

The Catholic Church acknowledges the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, as the inspired Word of God. The Catholic version of the Bible includes several additional books known as the deuterocanonical books, which are not found in Protestant versions of the Bible. These books include Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and parts of Esther and Daniel.

Worship Practices

LDS Worship

LDS worship services, known as Sacrament Meetings, are held on Sundays and consist of hymn singing, prayers, talks given by members, and the partaking of the sacrament (similar to communion). The LDS Church also emphasizes family worship and encourages personal and family prayer, scripture study, and weekly family home evenings.

Catholic Worship

Catholic worship is centered around the celebration of the Mass, which includes prayers, readings from Scripture, a homily (sermon), and the reception of Holy Communion. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, seeing it as the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. They also participate in other devotional practices such as saying the rosary, venerating saints, and observing various feast days and religious holy days.

Temple and Rituals

LDS Temple

Temples are considered sacred spaces in the LDS faith, where members can participate in ordinances such as baptisms for the dead, endowments, and sealings. These sacred rituals are believed to bind individuals and families together for eternity. Access to LDS temples is restricted to those who meet certain standards of worthiness and have received a temple recommend from their local ecclesiastical leaders.

Catholic Rituals

While the Catholic Church does not have temples in the same sense as the LDS Church, it does have special places of worship, often referred to as churches or cathedrals. These are considered holy sites where the faithful can gather for Mass, sacraments, and other religious ceremonies. Within these spaces, Catholics engage in various rituals such as lighting candles, making the sign of the cross, and participating in processions.

Priesthood and Clergy

LDS Priesthood

The LDS Church believes in the restoration of the priesthood authority, which they believe was given to Joseph Smith by heavenly messengers. The priesthood is viewed as the power and authority to act in God’s name and is divided into two main branches: the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood. Men and boys as young as 12 can be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood, while adult men can be ordained to the higher Melchizedek Priesthood.

Catholic Clergy

Catholic clergy consist of ordained priests, bishops, and deacons. The priesthood is seen as a sacred calling conferred through the sacrament of holy orders. While Catholic priests can be celibate or married depending on the particular rite or tradition, bishops and deacons are generally required to be celibate. Bishops are appointed by the Pope and oversee a group of parishes called a diocese.

Organization and Structure

LDS Organization

The LDS Church is organized into geographic units called wards and branches, with local leaders called bishops and branch presidents overseeing these congregations. A group of wards is organized into a stake, led by a stake president. At the highest level, the Church is governed by the First Presidency, consisting of the President of the Church and his counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Catholic Structure

The Catholic Church consists of dioceses led by bishops, who are in communion with the Pope. Each diocese is further divided into parishes, with a parish priest responsible for the spiritual care of the local community. At the highest level, the Pope is the head of the Church, followed by cardinals who assist him in governing the Church.

Gender Roles

LDS Gender Roles

In the LDS Church, there is a clear distinction between the responsibilities of men and women. Men are generally responsible for holding the priesthood and serving in leadership positions, while women are encouraged to fulfill traditional roles as wives and mothers, nurturing and supporting their families. However, both men and women are seen as equal in spiritual worth and have important roles in the family and community.

Catholic Gender Roles

The Catholic Church also upholds traditional gender roles, with men being ordained as priests and assuming leadership positions within the Church. Women are unable to be ordained as priests but are encouraged to serve in various roles within the Church, such as religious sisters, lay ministers, and active members of the laity. The Church emphasizes the equal dignity and worth of men and women, but there are clear distinctions in terms of roles and responsibilities within the hierarchical structure.

Views on Salvation

LDS Views on Salvation

LDS teachings emphasize the importance of personal faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments. They believe that salvation is a process that includes faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. They also believe in the concept of grace, viewing it as the enabling power of Christ’s Atonement that complements their own efforts to follow Him.

Catholic Views on Salvation

Catholics believe in the centrality of God’s grace in the process of salvation. They view salvation as a lifelong journey and the result of God’s saving work in an individual’s life. Catholics place an emphasis on the sacraments, which they believe are channels of God’s grace. While faith and works are both seen as important, Catholics believe that it is ultimately God’s grace that leads to salvation.

Social and Cultural Differences

LDS Social and Cultural Practices

LDS social and cultural practices often revolve around strong family values and community involvement. Family is seen as a central unit of society, and activities such as family home evenings, genealogical research, and service projects are encouraged. Modesty in dress, refraining from alcohol and tobacco, and abstaining from coffee and tea are also cultural practices observed by many LDS members.

Catholic Social and Cultural Practices

Catholic social and cultural practices vary depending on the cultural context in which the faith is practiced. However, some common practices include devotions to saints, pilgrimages to holy sites, the veneration of religious relics, and participation in religious processions. Catholicism also promotes social justice and charitable works, with many Catholics actively involved in assisting the poor and marginalized in their communities.

Global Distribution and Membership

LDS Membership

The LDS Church, also known as the Mormon Church, has a significant global presence. While its headquarters are in Salt Lake City, Utah, the LDS Church has members in many countries around the world. The Church has experienced substantial growth in regions such as Latin America, Africa, and Asia, in addition to its strong presence in North America.

Catholic Membership

The Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination in the world, with over a billion members worldwide. It has a global presence, with significant membership in Latin America, Europe, the Philippines, and parts of Africa. The Catholic Church’s extensive historical roots, missionary efforts, and cultural influence have contributed to its wide-ranging membership and vast network of parishes and institutions.

In conclusion, while both the LDS and Catholic traditions fall under the umbrella of Christianity, there are distinct differences in beliefs, practices, and organizational structures. These differences arise from variations in theological interpretations, historical developments, and cultural contexts. Understanding and respecting these differences can foster dialogue and mutual appreciation among believers of different faith traditions.