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On Mother Teresa’s 100th Birthday, Protesters Head to Empire State Building

Mother Teresa would have turned 100 today — an event celebrated with a Mass in Calcutta, India, where she devoted her life to the poor — and some Catholics are upset that the Empire State Buliding won’t be lighting up in blue and white in her honor. They’re heading to the skyscraper from 6 to 7:30 p.m. to make their voices heard, in a protest organized by William Donohue, of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights. 

From The New York Times:

“It’s simply an outrage that they would turn down our request to honor Mother Teresa when in the past they have lit up the building to honor Communist China and the DVD release of ‘The Simpsons Movie,’ ” said Mr. Donohue, referring to the 2007 lighting (in yellow) for the film and the 2009 red-and-yellow lighting for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.


A spokesman for Mr. Malkin said that while the building had traditionally been lighted in recognition of religious holidays like Hanukkah and Christmas, its self-imposed guidelines “state clearly that we do not accommodate requests for religious figures or requests by religions.”

Several politicians, political candidates and media personalities plan to participate in the rally, which Politics Daily notes only has one Catholic priest slated to speak. (Sounds like it’ll be a zoo, but maybe it’ll give the tourists an extra bang for their buck.)

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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posted August 26, 2010 at 12:34 pm

If they wish to honor Mother Theresa;
let them live humbly and simply as she
did; and give unselfishly as she did
to clothe, feed, and shelter the needy
and poor!!

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posted August 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm

It’s amazing people will bow down to building a mosque for the Muslims, but not spend a couple of kilowatts honoring a woman who did so much for the poor in India. But who needs them? God is giving more honors in a mili-second, than all of the Empire State Building can give forever!

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posted August 26, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Why look to a very secular structure when they have plenty of their own buildings to light up. I would think special light on St Pat’s cathedral would be better all around. This is simply more foolishness from people who do not have enough to do.

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Your Name

posted August 26, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Her heart was in the right place, but Mother Teresa worked against the most important way that India could lift its people out of dire poverty: birth control. (Promoting abstinence, especially when much of the population growth comes from married couples, doesn’t count.)
The New York Times just reported on the Indian government’s efforts to pay couples to wait a few years before having kids:

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posted August 26, 2010 at 11:00 pm

MT was apparently not entirely the saint she’s made out to be. And YN makes a very good point.
But I think the most pertinent thing about this is the sense of entitlement on the part of some Catholics, who think someone else should light up their building just because those Catholics want to celebrate someone’s birthday.

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posted August 27, 2010 at 12:24 am

Mother Teresa was more PR than real help. Her “Houses of Healing” were little more than a spot on the floor in a building where a person could die.
MT offered NO medicine, no privacy, no “dignity.” She offered basic shelter and prayers.
Yet she collected MILLIONS in donations to build more of these same death houses.
Why should we honor her?

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posted August 27, 2010 at 9:45 am

Since the Empire State Building is privately owned, the owners have every right to choose whom they will honor and whom they will not honor.
I agree that Mother Teresa was a complex person who could be seen as having done as much damage as good, but since she is on the “Sainthood track” these kinds of displays and protests are probably to be expected.

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Joe Gonzalez

posted August 27, 2010 at 10:40 am

I’m a Catholic, but not a run-of-the-mill one. The run-of-the-mill Catholics can be a pest worse than an abandoned house overrun with all types of vermin. They’ll go along with ANYTHING anyone in their hierarchy says, and i’d even go so far as to say they’re more “zealous” in their adherence to dogma ( which they understand NOTHING about, except that the Vatican says : ” Simon do this, Simon says do this..”)than most uneducated evangelicals.
They love Jesus theoretically, Jesus as interpreted by a highly well-accomodated ( in all respects ) hierarchy and by a tradition that at parts is extremely obsolete and outdated, seeing it goes back 2,000 years. Don’t forget that the Vatican apologized for what it put Galileo through only some 20 years ago. So – not to be taken seriously. Except, as i said, as pests, and in their ‘ zeal ‘ and
submission to authority ( their hierarchy and the Vatican ) can be very dangerous people. You think that Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to the ‘ poorest of the poor ‘ ( the dying abandoned in the streets of Calcutta ) would have given a hoot whether the Empire State building was lit up in her honor or not ? She, that was humility impersonified, and who once missed an official meeting with a President of the United States because she stopped her chauffer to aid an abandoned person she saw left on the street in Washington DC while en-route to the meeting with the President ? C’mon ! Get off it! This is the power the Catholic church, as evidenced in the demonstration, has to disrupt and molest and deviate ; and it has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus, but with their power-driven and rich ( never miss a good meal if they can help it )hierarchy, and with their pope, who goes around in his silk and tafetta and red cookie slippers, blessing this, condemning that, as befits what he likes to consider himself : GOD incarnate ( Jesus’s direct and private, plenipotentiary representative on earth.) For those that know little about these things, it’s relatively easy to understand : read the New Testament, which is rather brief, and which gives us the story of Jesus and His sojourn on the earth, and then, just compare with the Vatican, the hierarchy, and most of those that call themselves priests ( catholic ) and worshippers of the most High.
The contradiction is self-evident, and the contrast so out of kilt, that the comparison will just leave the recent conossieur laughing ( if he has a sense of humor ) at the pretentions of the self-proclaimed ONLY REAL CHURCH of JESUS THE LORD !

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posted August 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm

JoeG, I agree that Mother Teresa probably wouldn’t care about being honored by a light display on the Empire State Building (or any other extravagant display). However, I haven’t heard any statements coming from the hierarchy on this issue; just Bill Donohue and the Catholic League (whom I myself disagree with on more than a few issues). I understand people’s discontent with the hierarchy, but I also believe you picked an odd time to rail against them.

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Robert C

posted August 28, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Thanks for the level headedness Tom. Some people seem to always need Xanax and a bottle of gin when religion is the discussion. Most of those negative charges against her were summarily dismissed by the Indian Tv journal Frontline in their in depth investigation of her and her charitable mission. The original criticisms stemmed from the negativity sired by an expat friend of Christopher Hitchins who convinced him to write his hit pieces on her, one notoriously titled “The Missionary Position”. It’s only poetic justice that he now finds himself in a similar position. But your right in that she would not give a flying rupee whether the empire state lights up for her or not. Actually, they should just encase the whole thing in a giant condom and tell NY to put it where the moon don’t shine.

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posted August 28, 2010 at 8:07 pm

If we light the building for Mother Teresa, to please the Catholics, who is important enough from the Methodists, Jews, Presbyterians, Mormons (Joseph Smith??) Buddhists and too many faiths to name? Leave religious “lightings” to churches, not privately owned buildings. MT is just fine without the fuss. She might have enjoyed it if she was alive, but “hello?” she is dead.

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posted August 29, 2010 at 1:43 am

Mother Teresa shines in a light of her own. Even the Empire State building would pale in the natural bright light of one small but shining bright women. I am confident in my belief she would have thought many other things would merit more concern!

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