In another development in the dispute over the Empire State Building’s refusal of a request to honor the 100th birthday of Mother Teresa in its lighting scheme, a coalition of Catholic dissenters has issued a statement affirming the decision and characterizing advocates of the honor as serving “the radical right.”
The head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights responded by noting the variety of people who support the honors, including some bishops of India.
The Catholic League had asked the building to light up the skyscraper in the blue and white colors of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, but the operating company of the building declined the request.
Led by the Catholic League, objectors to the decision pointed to the landmark’s previous lighting scheme honors for the 60th anniversary of the communist revolution in China, the 125th anniversary of the Salvation Army, and the deaths of Cardinal John O’Connor and Pope John Paul II.
Now backing the Empire State Building management is a coalition of dissenting Catholic groups including Catholics for Choice, Call to Action, DignityUSA, the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), New Ways Ministry, and the Women’s Ordination Conference.
The group praises Anthony E. Malkin, head of the company which operates the building, for opposing what the letter calls “the bullying tactics” of the Catholic League and its president Bill Donohue.
“The Catholic League serves as an attack dog for the radical right, helping to promote its misogynist and homophobic agenda,” the letter claimed, accusing Donohue of seeking publicity.
The letter claimed that Mother Teresa rarely celebrated her birthday and would be “appalled” to hear it had become a source of controversy.
Donohue responded to the letter in a Friday statement, claiming the membership of the coalition’s organizations was so small their members “would easily fit into a phone booth” if gathered together.
“No matter, these ex-Catholics are so pro-abortion that they are now on record of wanting to deny Mother Teresa a tribute on the 100th anniversary of her birthday,” he charged.
Donohue reported that a rally on behalf of Mother Teresa would proceed outside the Empire State Building on August 26. He also claimed support from people “all over the world” and from all religions.
The Catholic League president also noted that he would meet with Bishop A.A.S. Durairaj of Khandwa, India. “Like all the other bishops from India that have contacted us, he supports our campaign to honor Mother Teresa,” Donohue remarked.
“Even those who are not pro-life are on our side, which just goes to show how extreme the dissenters are,” his Friday statement concluded. “But as long as they remain marginalized, they are of no historic moment.”