Effort to have Empire State Building honor Mother Teresa mobilizes 40,000

Mother Teresa and the Empire State Building in New York City.
Mother Teresa and the Empire State Building in New York City.


The Catholic League’s efforts to have Blessed Mother Teresa honored on her 100th birthday in the lighting scheme for the Empire State Building continue. The proposal now has the backing of a leading New York City councilwoman, which a Catholic League spokesman was a sign of the famous religious sister’s widespread admiration.

The Catholic organization wanted the building to display blue and white lights, the color of Mother Teresa’s order, on the religious sister’s 100th birthday, but its request was declined by the building’s management.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has voiced support for the effort to honor the beatified woman who served the poor of Calcutta, India.

"The question of why the building will not be lit is a question that deserves answering," she told The New York Daily News, adding that she thought the lighting scheme should have been approved.

She said she reached out to the ownership of the Empire State Building last week after learning the lighting application had been denied.

"We urged them to try to find a way to light the building," Quinn continued. "We are all very disappointed."

She reported that the owners gave no particular reason for refusing the request, calling on them to revisit their decision and “honor this wonderful woman who has given so much to the world.”

Quinn, who is openly homosexual, has stood opposite the Catholic League on issues such as same-sex “marriage” and whether homosexual groups should march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Mother Teresa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, opened the first hospice for AIDS patients in Greenwich Village.

In a Tuesday phone interview, CNA spoke about the controversy with Jeff Field, director of communications at the Catholic League.

Asked about the success of the organization’s Empire State Building campaign, he reported that the Catholic League’s on-line petition has attracted over 30,000 signatures while another 10,000 Catholic League members have pledged support via direct mail.

The organization has also received letters of support from Indian and U.S. bishops.

People are “fired up” by the controversy, Field added, reporting that some have organized a trip to help protest the Empire State Building.

Asked about the Catholic League’s reaction to the support from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, he replied “We’re glad that she’s on board.”

“We have allies from all over the place,” he continued, noting that Mother Teresa is loved not only by Catholics but Protestants, Jews and even atheists.

In his view, honoring Mother Teresa in its lighting scheme should have been “a no-brainer” for the Empire State Building. He noted that the building has honored various other individuals and events in the past

One honoree that stood out, in Field’s view, was the 60th anniversary of the Communist Revolution in China. “Under the leadership of Mao Tse-Tung, that killed 77 million innocent people,” Field commented.

“We thought honoring Mother Teresa was a slam-dunk,” he told CNA. “Why not honor a saintly nun who has won the Nobel Peace Prize?”

“But apparently they felt otherwise,” he added.

Field described the Empire State Building as an “iconic structure” known worldwide. With the U.S. Postal Service issuing a stamp to honor Mother Teresa, the Catholic League thought it would be “a great idea” to have the building honor her for her 100th birthday on August 26.

“It was the least that we could do to honor such an admired woman,” he continued, saying the refusal of the request “boggles the mind.”

Follow us:

Check out Catholic News Agency Polls on LockerDome on LockerDome