I've heard the terms "Roman Catholic" and "Irish Catholic" since I was little, but I have never understood what, if any, are the differences between the two. Why the differentiation of the two? hat makes them separate? How did they come to be separate?

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    Is it possible that this distinction originated in differentiating Irish(Catholic) and Irish(Protestant) -- non trivial distinctions for some time and sadly a cause of strife -- and that it has morphed over time? Nov 8, 2016 at 18:50

5 Answers 5


Irish Catholic is just a cultural distinction.

There is an Anglican Church of Ireland which might consider itself truly Irish-Catholic in the sense that in England they'd call themselves Anglo-Catholic. But that's not what people mean when they say Irish Catholic, they mean Roman Catholic or as Catholics prefer to say, Catholic.

There are other countries/regions where having Catholic after the name is actually indicative of being another rite of the church. Assyrian Catholic, Ethiopian Catholic etc. They are still in communion (subscribing to the same teachings) with the Church in Rome.

American Catholic, on the other hand, is a schismatic group that is not in communion with the Church in Rome.


The biggest difference is that Irish Culture, since the time of Saint Patrick, is so profoundly Catholic that almost everything in Irish Culture is colored by a Catholic influence. Moreover, the Irish are known for being Catholic (you've heard Ireland called "The Isle of Saints and Scholars", no?). The Irish also produced an abundance of religious vocations, including many, many missionary priests: in many parts of the world the first contact one might have had with an Irishman would have had a distinctly Catholic experience. That isn't to say that there aren't other Catholic micro-cultures (Sicilian-Catholic, Bavarian-Catholic, Hungarian-Catholic... with all of the very unique cultural influences they have) but the Irish are somewhat unique in that it's uncommon to find an element of Irish culture that isn't Catholic.


I was not raised Catholic, even though my father was raised Roman Catholic, since my home town is prominently a Roman Catholic town. He decided to let us decide for our own what faith or path to follow, most likely because of the abuse he and his class mates got from their priest, and before you stop reading, no it wasn't sexual abuse--it was violent, violent altercations between the Father and his students. Any way, I thought that would be relevant to know... I've traveled a good deal and met some great people, especially from Ireland, and they helped me in a way I can't express enough. See, I was without faith for a long time and the Roman Catholic way just didn't make sense to me--it's ok to do whatever you will and as long as you confess you're forgiven?!? That didn't work for me, so I searched and searched.

There is a huge difference between Roman and Irish Catholicism. A true Irish Catholic must not just confess, but earn his way back into God's graces, not by prayer or fasting, but through his actions. That is how a real Irish Catholic repents. But first and foremost, don't commit the sin to begin with, and I know that's not how things are in an imperfect world, but I've witnessed Roman Catholics actually state "It's ok if we do this--as long as we ask for forgiveness we will be forgiven"!! The Irish Men I know would be appalled at that statement as am I. Karma is for real, and the Lord pays attention!!

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    Welcome to C.SE! Your second paragraph here is a little closer to what we are looking for - answers that actually engage the question! Im leaving in your first, however, as I suspect you are using it to attest to your credentials. Ideally, a little more sourcing and reference to authorities beyond yourself would be helpful. Mar 26, 2013 at 11:57
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    Admittedly, your answer reminded me of a scene from 30 Rock, where Jack Donaghy explains to Tracy Jordan the difference between Irish and Roman Catholic, and it all boils down to guilt and the ability to get forgiven for anything just by doing confession. Mar 26, 2013 at 11:58

There is no difference between Roman and Irish catholic. They are all the same. they both belong to the same Catholic church. Actually there is no Roman Catholic church, it's just the Catholic church. The Roman Catholic is a rite in the Catholic church which is [composed of 23 rites.] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Catholic_rites_and_churches)

I am for example Maronite Catholic and I still belong to the Catholic church. All the rites have their culture and heritage, but in the end we all follow the pope. That's all!

We are all Catholic.

  • Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page and How we are different than other sites? Nov 7, 2013 at 1:02
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    However, that said, while this is perfectly reasonable, I don't see how it is different from, or adds anything to the accepted answer. Nov 7, 2013 at 1:04

O - Whilst I agree (partially) with your quote i.e. "There is no difference between Roman and Irish catholic. They are all the same." Yes indeed - Irish Catholic is just a term or truncated way of saying "An Irish person who is of Roman Catholic faith".

However, here is where I beg to differ: The 'catholic' church does not in fact refer solely to the Roman Catholic Church; the word 'catholic' meaning of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive.
In other words, the Catholic or catholic church also relates & applies to other Christian faiths, including Anglican and Protestant. In a nutshell (if it is possible to do so) - all Christians are part of the catholic church but not all of them follow the Pope.


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