It is my pleasure to introduce the leader of tonight’s call, Karen Painter.

Karen lives in Miami, Oklahoma and is the Director of Religious Education at Sacred Heart Parish.

Have been part of Council for over 25 years and has served as the President of the Tulsa CCW, Province Director for the Oklahoma City Province, and as a Region II Vice President for National.

Karen has also served on the NCCW Service and Resolutions Committees.


She has attended numerous conferences and workshops on Human Trafficking, Social Justice, Migration, and Pornography as well as several Catholic Social Ministry Gatherings.

Karen is the current NCCW Representative to the Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP) and is 

Chair the NCCW’s Legislative Advocacy Committee.


Tonight, she will provide us with an update on the Legislative Advocacy efforts.

I’ll ask everyone to please join me in muting our phones by pressing star 6 and Karen, we look forward to all that you have to tell us.  Thank you.





                                                         Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship


Let me begin by saying the purpose of this Leadership call is to discuss only the Catholic Bishops book on Faithful Citizenship and our political responsibility as Catholics. We will not be discussing any candidates and or party affiliation. 

I would like to read a quote from Pope Francis.

Catholics Care.   Catholics Vote.

“We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear; a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.  9/16/13 

As a nation, we share many blessings and strengths, including a tradition of religious freedom and political participation. However, as a people, we face serious challenges that are both political and moral. This has always been so, and as Catholics we are called to participate in public life in a manner consistent with the mission of our Lord, a mission that he has called us to share.

(12) “The Catholic community brings important assets to the political dialogue about our nation’s future. We bring a consistent moral framework – drawn from basic human reason that is illuminated by Scripture and the teaching of the Church – for assessing issues, political platforms, and campaigns. We also bring broad experience in serving those in need – educating the young, serving families in crisis, caring for the sick, sheltering the homeless, helping women who face difficult pregnancies, feeding the hungry, welcoming immigrants and refugees, reaching out in global solidarity, and pursuing peace. We celebrate, with all our neighbors, the historically robust commitment to religious freedom in this country that has allowed the Church the freedom to serve the common good. “

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have you watched the debates of both parties that have aired on television these past months?
  2. Have you always chosen and voted for a particular party affiliation, regardless of where they stand on issues? (44) “Human life is sacred. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.”
  3. Do you research and read where a candidate stands on moral issues? (9)” The Church’s obligation to participate in shaping the moral character of society is a requirement of our faith.”   
  4. Do you feel the candidates answer your questions or concerns clearly, or are you further confused by the lack of information they provide?  
  5. Are you satisfied that you have a well-formed conscience as to who you will vote for? Are you looking at all sides of the issues, not just what works for you? (13) In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.

(14) The Catholic call to faithful citizenship affirms the importance of political participation and insists that public service is a worthy vocation. As citizens, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group. When necessary, our participation should transform the party to which we belong; we should not let the party transform us in such a way that we neglect or deny fundamental moral truths or approve intrinsically evil acts. We are called to bring together our principals and our political choices, our values and our votes, to help build a civilization of truth and love.”

 A Well-Formed Conscience(17) “The Church equips its members to address political and social questions by helping them to develop a well-formed conscience. Catholics have a serious and lifelong obligation to form their consciences in accord with human reason and the teaching of the Church. Conscience is not something that allows us to justify doing whatever we want, nor is it a mere “feeling” about what we should or should not do. Rather, conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing the truth to us and calling us to do what is good while shunning evil.”

(18) “The formation of conscience includes several elements. First, there is desire to embrace goodness and truth. For Catholics, this begins with a willingness and openness to seek the truth and what is right by studying Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is also important to examine the facts and background information about various choices. Finally, prayerful reflection is essential to discern the will of God. Catholics must also understand that if they fail to form their consciences in the light of the truths of the faith and the moral teaching of the Church they can make erroneous judgments.”

The Virtue of Prudence:  (19) The Church fosters well-formed consciences not only by teaching moral truth but also by encouraging its members to develop the virtue of prudence. Prudence enables us “to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the means of achieving it.”

(20) The Church’s teaching is clear that a good end does not justify an immoral means. (22) There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called “intrinsically evil” actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia. It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice.   

(23) Similarly, human cloning, destructive research on human embryos, violations of human dignity, acts of racism, treating workers as mere means to an end, deliberately subjecting workers to subhuman living conditions, treating the poor as disposable, or redefining marriage to deny its essential meaning, is never to be justified. 

(34) Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting intrinsically evil acts. (37)  In making decisions all issues do not carry the same moral weight. These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue. In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.

Four Principals of Catholic Social Teaching -  

  1. Dignity of the Human Person
  2. The Common Good
  3. Subsidiarity
  4. Solidarity

(40) In the words of Pope Francis, “progress in building a people in peace, justice and fraternity depends on four principals related to constant tensions present in every social reality.

Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care… If we understand the human person as “the temple of the Holy Spirit” – the living house of God  - then these issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation. (Living the Gospel of Life, no.22)

(41) Catholic voters should use the framework of Catholic social teaching to examine candidates’ positions on issues affecting human life and dignity as well as issues of justice and peace, and they should consider candidates’ integrity, philosophy, and performance. It is important for all citizens “to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principal, not party affiliation or mere self-interest” (Living the Gospel of Life, no 33).

The Dignity of the Human Person: (44 -45) Human life is sacred, The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. We revere the lives of children in the womb, the lives of persons dying in war and from starvation, and indeed the lives of all human beings as children of God. We stand opposed to these and all activities that contribute to what Pope Francis has called “a throwaway culture.”

Subsidiarity – It is impossible to promote the dignity of the person without showing concern for the family, groups, associations, local territorial realities; in short, for that aggregate of economic, social, cultural, sports-oriented recreational, professional and political expressions to which people spontaneously give life and which make it possible for them to achieve effective social growth. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no 185)

(46) The human person is not only sacred but also social. Full human development takes place in relationship with others. The family – based on marriage between a man and a woman – is the first and fundamental unit of society and is a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children. Respect for the family should be reflected in every policy and program. It is important to uphold parents’ rights and responsibilities to care for their children, including the right to choose their children’s education.

(47) How we organize our society – in economics and politics, in law and policy – directly affects the common good and the capacity of individuals to develop their full potential.

The Common Good -  The common good indicates “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” {Guadium et Spes, no 26)

(49) Human dignity is respected and the common good is fostered only if human rights are protected and basic responsibilities are met. Every human being has a right to life, the fundamental right that makes all other rights possible, and a right to access those things required for human decency – food and shelter, education, and employment, health care and housing, freedom of religion and family life. The right to exercise religious freedom publicly and privately by individuals and institutions along with freedom of conscience need to be defended.

(50)  The economy must serve people, not the other way around. It is therefore necessary that an economic system serve the dignity of the human person and the common good by respecting the dignity of work and protecting the rights of workers. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation.

(51) We have a duty to care for God’s creation, or as Pope Francis refers to it in Laudato Si’, “our common home.” We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of God’s creation because “every creature is …. the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world.” (Laudato Si’ no 77) Care for God’s Creation is a duty of our faith and a sign of our concern for all people, especially the poor, who “both everyday experience and scientific research show” suffer “the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment” (no48). We have a moral obligation to protect the planet on which we live – to respect God’s creation and to ensure a safe and hospitable environment for human beings, especially children at their most vulnerable stages of development. As stewards called by God to share the responsibility for the future of the earth, we should work for a world in which people respect and protect all of creation and seek to live simply in harmony with it for the sake of future generations.

Solidarity – Solidarity highlights in a particular way the intrinsic social nature of the human person, the equality of all in dignity and rights and the common path of individuals and peoples towards an ever more committed unity … Solidarity must be seen above all in its value as a moral virtue that determines the order of institutions.



(52) We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbors has global dimensions and requires us to eradicate racism and address the extreme poverty and disease plaguing so much of the world. 

(53) In reference to solidarity, a special emphasis must be given to the Church’s preferential option for the poor. While the common good embraces all, those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need deserve preferential concern. A basic moral test for any society is how it treats those who are most vulnerable. In a society marred by deepening disparities between rich and poor, Sacred Scripture gives us the story of the Last Judgment (Mt. 25:31 – 46) and reminds us that we will be judged by our response to the “least among us.”

(54) Pope Benedict XVI has taught that “love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to {the Church} as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel” (Dues Caritas Est, no 22)

(55) These four principals and related themes from Catholic social teaching provide a moral framework that does not easily fit ideologies of “right” or “left,” “liberal” or “conservative,” or the platform of any political party. They are not partisan or sectarian, but reflect fundamental ethical principles that are common to all people.

(60) We cannot compromise basic principles or moral teaching. We are committed to clarity about our moral teaching and to civility. In public life, it is important to practice the virtues of charity and justice that are at the core of our Tradition. We should work with others in a variety of ways to advance our moral principles.

(61) In light of these principles and the blessings we share as part of a free and democratic nation, we bishops vigorously repeat our call for a renewed kind of politics:

  • Focused more on moral principles than on the latest polls
  • Focused more on the needs of the weak than on benefits for the strong
  • Focused more on the pursuit of the common good than on the demands of narrow interests

(62)  This kind of political participation reflects the social teaching of our Church and the best traditions of our nation. 

(63) Politics is a noble mission to promote the common good. As such, it is about ethics and principles as well as issues, candidates, and officeholders. To engage in “politics,” then, is more than getting involved in current polemics and debates; it is about acting with others and through institutions for the benefit of all. The fact that much of our political rhetoric has become very negative and that political polarization seems to have grown should not dissuade us from the high calling to work for a world that allows everyone to thrive, a world in which all persons, all families, have what they need to fulfill their God-given destiny.


Goals for Political Life: (92) Catholic teaching challenges voters and candidates, citizens and elected officials, to consider the moral and ethical dimensions of public  policy issues. In light of ethical principles, we bishops offer the following policy goals that we hope will guide Catholics as they form their consciences and reflect on the moral dimensions of their public choices. Not all issues are equal; these ten goals address matters of different moral weight and urgency. Some involve intrinsically evil acts, which can never be approved. Others involve affirmative obligations to seek the common good. These and similar goals can help voters and candidates act on ethical principals rather than particular interests and partisan allegiances. We hope Catholics will ask candidates how they intend to help our nation pursue these important goals:

  1. Address the preeminent requirement to protect the weakest in our midst – innocent unborn children – by restricting and bringing to an end the destruction of unborn children through abortion and providing women in crisis pregnancies the support they need to make a decision for life.
  2. Keep our nation from turning to violence to address fundamental problems – a million abortions each year to deal with unwanted pregnancies, euthanasia and assisted suicide to deal with the burdens of illness and disability, the destruction of human embryos in the name of research, the use of the death penalty to combat crime, and imprudent resort to war to address international disputes.
  3. Protect the fundamental understanding of marriage as the life-long and faithful union of one man and one woman and as the central institution of society; promote the complementarity of the sexes and reject false “gender” ideologies; and provide better support for family life morally, socially, and economically, so that our nation helps parents raise their children with respect for life, sound moral values, and an ethic of stewardship and responsibility.
  4. Achieve comprehensive immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship, treats immigrant workers fairly, prevents the separation of families, maintains the integrity of our borders, respects the rule of law, and addresses the factors that compel people to leave their own countries.
  5. Help families and children overcome poverty: ensuring access to and choice in education, as well as decent work at fair, living wages and adequate assistance for the vulnerable in our nation, while also helping to overcome widespread hunger and poverty around the world, especially in the areas of development assistance, debt relief, and international trade.
  6. Provide health care while respecting human life, human dignity, and religious freedom in our health care system.
  7. Continue to oppose policies that reflect prejudice, hostility toward immigrants, religious bigotry, and other forms of unjust discrimination.
  8. Encourage families, community groups, economic structures, and government to work together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good, and care for creation, with full respect for individuals and groups and their right to address social needs in accord with their basic moral and religious convictions.


  9. Establish and comply with moral limits on the use of military force – examining for what purposes it may be used, under what authority, and at what human cost – with a special view to seeking a responsible and effective response for ending the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and other parts of the world.


  10. Join with others around the world to pursue peace, protect human rights and religious liberty, and advance economic justice and care for creation.


Political candidates and their information is in our homes and on news stations and newspapers far longer than any of us want, but we are all called to love one another and to create the best world we can for everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, or where we live.

There are no perfect candidates, but before you make a choice for any office you do need to pay close attention to what the candidates  are saying or not saying, and as Catholics we are to make choices that will enhance the lives of all humans not just a few.

We are all unique individuals created by the same God and if we pray and allow ourselves to be led by Church teachings, we can be successful.

Thank you for listening and especially for spending your time with us this evening.


Numbered quote are taken from Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship – A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States with Introductory Note. USCCB



Karen Painter

Legislative Advocacy Chair


Maribeth:  Thank you, Karen, for these beautiful words that certainly are so important at this time when we are being called upon to exercise our right to vote.  These days we are facing attacks on our Catholic teachings on so many fronts.  Attacks that are well organized and well financed, many of which are global attempts to change the very nature of our social culture.  Your call for us to carefully review the document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is critical and we are so very grateful to you for providing such a thorough summary for us this evening.  Thank you so much.  Now if anyone has any questions or comments, please unmute your phone by pressing Star 6.


Milwaukee:  Their Council has an annual layette dinner to help pregnant women.  Around 150 women participate with donations going to Catholic Charities and Birthright.

Karen:  The Tulsa Council has a big fundraiser like this.  We cannot do enough to help others.  SO many do truly need our help.  We have such privilege here in the USA.  We worry about things like getting the shopping done but so many others around the world do not even have access to clean water or to food.  So very many need our help.


Sheila Hopkins:  Thank you to Karen.  From Sheila’s past position with the Florida bishops she has observed that there is a lot of respect for Catholics because we stand by our values.  Please use the Faithful Citizenship document to analyze the positions of the candidates. 


Becky from Oklahoma:  They are working to build capacity in their state.  She encourages women to access the Catholic Conference in their own state and get active to help the less fortunate.  People don’t realize that a handful of people making a trip to speak to their state legislators makes a huge impact. So, make a trip to your capitol or on the local level to advocate for good and proper legislation.


Sheila:  Reminded us that many of our women participate in Catholics at the Capitol Days or Legislative Days. These are very important.


Maribeth again thanked Karen for her important presentation.