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Jesuits vs. Roman Catholics — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Published on January 31, 2024
Jesuits are a Catholic religious order focused on education and missionary work. Roman Catholics refer to members of the Catholic Church under the Pope's authority.
Jesuits vs. Roman Catholics — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Jesuits and Roman Catholics


Key Differences

Jesuits, also known as the Society of Jesus, are a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church, founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Roman Catholics refer to all members of the Catholic Church, which is the largest Christian church, led by the Pope.
Jesuits are known for their work in education, founding prestigious schools worldwide, and their commitment to missionary work and social justice. In contrast, Roman Catholics encompass a broader community with diverse practices and beliefs but share common doctrines and participate in the same sacraments.
The Jesuit order is characterized by a rigorous intellectual approach to faith and a special vow of obedience to the Pope, particularly in mission direction. Roman Catholics, while adhering to the Pope's authority, do not take specific vows as lay members and engage in various religious and secular lives.
Jesuits often work in missionary, educational, and scholarly pursuits and are known for their intellectual rigor and contemplative spiritual practices. Roman Catholics include a wide array of vocations, from laypeople to various other religious orders, each with distinct charisms and roles within the Church.
While Jesuits are a distinct group with specific roles and a focused mission within the Church, Roman Catholics represent the universal body of the Church, including a variety of spiritualities, vocations, and practices under the same faith and doctrines.

Comparison Chart


A religious order within the Roman Catholic Church
Members of the Catholic Church under the Pope


Founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola
The Catholic Church traces its origins to Jesus Christ and the Apostles

Primary Focus

Education, missionary work, social justice
Diverse practices, common faith and participation in sacraments


Special vows including obedience to the Pope
Lay members do not take specific religious vows


Often in scholarly, educational, missionary roles
Includes laypeople, clergy, and various religious orders

Compare with Definitions


Members of a Catholic religious order known for education and missionary work.
He joined the Jesuits to work in their educational missions.

Roman Catholics

Encompasses a wide array of spiritualities and vocations within the Catholic Church.
Roman Catholics include laypeople, clergy, and religious orders.


Jesuits take a special vow of obedience to the Pope, especially in missions.
As a Jesuit, he was particularly dedicated to his mission overseas.

Roman Catholics

Follows the teachings of Jesus Christ as interpreted by the Catholic Church.
Roman Catholics adhere to teachings such as the Nicene Creed.


A religious order focused on contemplative practices and scholarly pursuits.
Jesuits have contributed significantly to theological scholarship.

Roman Catholics

Engages in various religious and secular lives, yet united in the same faith.
Roman Catholics worldwide celebrate Easter and Christmas as key religious festivals.


An order emphasizing intellectual rigor and social justice within the Catholic Church.
The Jesuits have a long history of defending human rights.

Roman Catholics

Adherents of the Catholic Church, sharing common doctrines and sacraments.
Roman Catholics participate in seven sacraments as part of their faith.


Known for founding prestigious educational institutions globally.
Many top universities were established by the Jesuits.

Roman Catholics

Members of the largest Christian church led by the Pope.
As Roman Catholics, they attend Mass every Sunday.


Roman Catholic Church A member of the Society of Jesus.


Often jesuit One given to subtle casuistry.

Common Curiosities

What distinguishes Jesuits from other Catholics?

Jesuits are distinguished by their specific focus on education, missionary work, and a special vow of obedience to the Pope.

Do all Roman Catholics belong to a religious order like the Jesuits?

No, not all Roman Catholics belong to religious orders; many are laypeople.

What does it mean to be Roman Catholic?

Being Roman Catholic means being a member of the largest Christian church, which is under the authority of the Pope.

Can Jesuits become priests?

Yes, many Jesuits are ordained priests and engage in pastoral and sacramental ministries.

Is Jesuit education available to non-Catholics?

Yes, Jesuit educational institutions often welcome students of all faiths.

What are the core beliefs of Roman Catholics?

Core beliefs include the divinity of Jesus Christ, the sacraments, and adherence to the teachings of the Church.

Who are the Jesuits?

The Jesuits are a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church known for their educational and missionary work.

How do Jesuits contribute to the Catholic Church?

Jesuits contribute through educational institutions, theological scholarship, and missionary endeavors.

What is the main mission of the Jesuits?

The main mission of the Jesuits is education, missionary work, and social justice.

Are Jesuit practices different from those of other Roman Catholics?

Jesuit practices include specific spiritual exercises and intellectual approaches, which may differ from other Catholic practices.

Do Roman Catholics follow the Pope's teachings like Jesuits?

Yes, Roman Catholics, including Jesuits, follow the Pope's teachings as part of their adherence to the Church.

What role do laypeople play in the Roman Catholic Church?

Laypeople participate in various ministries, help in community services, and play vital roles in the Church's life.

Do Roman Catholics and Jesuits celebrate the same religious festivals?

Yes, Jesuits and Roman Catholics celebrate the same key religious festivals like Easter and Christmas.

How are Jesuits trained?

Jesuits undergo extensive training in spirituality, theology, and various forms of ministry.

Can women join the Jesuits?

No, the Jesuit order consists only of men, but women can participate in Jesuit-affiliated works and spirituality.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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