Other activities to honor Mother Teresa in New York City are being planned after the Empire State Building operators said they would not light the building in the blue and white of the Missionaries of Charity on the religious sister’s 100th birthday. The Catholic League continues to question the consistency of the policy and plans a protest.
The Catholic League had asked the Empire State Building’s management to light the building on August 26, but the request was declined.
According to a statement on the building’s website, its guidelines do not accommodate requests for “religious figures” or requests by “religions and religious organizations.” It claimed all organizations agree to these guidelines upon submitting a lighting request.
The official Empire State Building Lighting Partner program was established in August 2006 after prior management was replaced.
However, in a June 11 statement, Catholic League president Bill Donohue noted that on April 25 last year the towers were lighted with blue and white on honor of the Salesian sisters.
He also claimed that there was “no such guideline that I had to agree to up front.”
“Indeed, if there had been such a rule, I would never have bothered to fill out the application.”
Donohue, who provided a copy of his application for a lighting scheme request, charged that the policy was being “made up” because the building management is “on the run.”
“So they not only refuse to honor Mother Teresa, they are lying about their indefensible decision,” he charged, announcing that a planned protest at the building will go forward.
Many New Yorkers had critical reactions to the building’s decision.
"They are stupid to deny her the lights. They'll regret it in the afterlife. It's dumb, dumb, dumb," commented former Mayor Ed Koch, according to the New York Post. "Mother Teresa deserves the highest honors. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus -- all of us think she's a saint.”
The former mayor fondly recalled meeting Mother Teresa at Gracie Mansion, the Post reports.
Gov. Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg declined to comment, but Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio criticized Empire State Building owner Anthony E. Malkin.
"The fact that the Empire State Building Lighting Partners has honored others, including an oppressive Chinese regime, but refuses to do so for a compassionate humanitarian like Mother Teresa is stunning,” Lazio commented, referring to the building’s red and yellow lighting scheme which marked the 60th anniversary of the Communist revolution in China.
A statement on the Empire State Building’s website said “We are saddened by the hateful words and messages being generated both for and against lighting for Mother Teresa's 100th birthday.”
The building management said emotions should be directed towards community service and those who are opposed to the decision should be “dignified and respectful in their dialogue.”
The New York City Council is offering a day of service for August 26 to honor Mother Teresa’s legacy. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and others are planning to do volunteer work.
City Council president Christine Quinn has called on New Yorkers to put blue and white battery-operated lights in their windows and the city’s borough halls are planning to show the colors, Fox News reports.