US bishops to honor three people with 'People of Life' award

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The March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2017. Credit: Jeff Bruno.

More than 100 Catholics will attend the 2018 People of Life awards next week to honor three pro-life individuals for their dedication to the Gospel of Life.

The awards will go to Janice Benton, a proponent for disability rights; Monsignor Joseph Ranieri, an advocate for post-abortion healing; and James Hanson, who campaigned against medically assisted-suicide and who will be honored posthumously.  

The awards will be presented in Phoenix as part of the Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference July 29 – Aug. 1, sponsored by the US bishops' Secretariat on Pro-Life Activities.

More than 125 people are expected to attend, including Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Bishop Brendan Cahill of Victoria in Texas, and Bishop Eduardo Nevares, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix.

The awards are given to men and women who have made significant and longtime contributions to the pro-life movement, promoting a culture of life and respect for the human person.

Janice Benton has served as the executive director of National Catholic Partnership on Disability for 15 years. Before that, she spent 25 years ministering to people with disabilities, working in areas such as a camp counselor for people with intellectual disabilities.

She also worked for the American Coalition of Citizens in Washington D.C., beginning in 1979, where she advocated for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Education for All Handicapped Children Act.

Monsignor Ranieri has served as a parish priest of the Archdiocese of Washington for more than 60 years. There, he involved himself with Project Rachel Ministry, a post-abortion resource group.

According to the Catholic Anchor, Monsignor Ranieri encouraged priests, who will hear about abortions in the confessional, “to listen, to be open and to be patient. These people need to talk about what happened, often more than once.”

James Hanson was a U.S. Marine Corp veteran and president of the Patients Rights Action Fund, a strategic and financial support group advocating against assisted suicide legislation. Hanson suffered from glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Before he passed away in December 2017, Hanson campaigned against legislation permitting assisted suicide.

The People of Life award was established in 2007 by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. The award seeks to honor Catholics dedicated to the pro-life movement as described by St. John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical on the value and inviolability of human life, Evangelium Vitae.

According to the USCCB website, the People of Life award “is presented to individuals who have consistently answered this call of the Gospel of Life.”

“Recipients are recognized because, through their personal or professional contributions, they have demonstrated their lifetime commitment to the pro-life movement, to promoting respect for the dignity of the human person, and to advocacy for an end to the culture of death in this nation.”

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