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N.Y. Icon Takes Dim View of Mother Teresa’s Birthday

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) In a bid to honor what would have been Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday on Aug. 26, the New York-based Catholic League has gathered more than 24,000 signatures to light the iconic spire of the Empire State Building in blue and white.
The answer from the building’s management, so far, has been no, which has made the conservative group even more insistent. Some New York priests, meanwhile, don’t seem to see what all the fuss is about.
Jeff Field, a spokesman for the Catholic League said the group’s application was denied without explanation a few weeks ago.
“We’re deeply upset and quite angry that the Empire State Building hasn’t budged and it doesn’t look like they are going to,” Field said.
Representatives from the Empire State Building declined to comment.
The Rev. Thomas Franks of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Midtown Manhattan also wanted an explanation for the denial, but does not consider the lighting to be of utmost importance.
“A far more important thing is her own canonization process and the recognition of her life of holiness,” Franks said of Mother Teresa.
Other priests, like Rev. Bartholomew Daly of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, don’t see much merit in the request.
“I think that trying to get the Empire State involved is far out,” Daly said. “I can’t see anything spiritual about that.”
The United States Postal Service will honor the life and humanitarian work of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nun with a stamp tentatively scheduled to go on sale on Aug. 26.
In the last two years, the Empire State Building has been specially lit to celebrate the career of pop star Mariah Carey, the fifth anniversary of the Broadway musical “Wicked” and the founding of communist China.
The Catholic League is headquartered less than 10 blocks from the Empire State Building, and if their petition is unsuccessful, officials plan to hold a rally on Aug. 26, Field said.
“We’re going to bring people to the streets, we’re going to make sure that this is well known, we want this to be a big event,” he said.
By FERNANDO ALFONSO III
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • Your Name

    “The Rev. Thomas Franks of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church …”
    Who KNEW St. John was a “Baptist Catholic”?
    Heck, who knew there was such a thing, eh?
    ;{O)
    Besides, what has Mother Teresa done for us lately?

  • nnmns

    Mother Theresa quite likely died an atheist, but a lot of other people have done that and no buildings were lit up. As for her good works, they may not have been nearly as good as people think. From her Wikipedia article:

    She has been praised by many individuals, governments and organizations; however, she has also faced a diverse range of criticism. These include objections by various individuals and groups, including Christopher Hitchens, Michael Parenti, Aroup Chatterjee, Vishva Hindu Parishad, against the proselytizing focus of her work including a strong stance against contraception and abortion, a belief in the spiritual goodness of poverty and alleged baptisms of the dying. Medical journals also criticised the standard of medical care in her hospices and concerns were raised about the opaque nature in which donated money was spent.

  • Henrietta22

    I’m with Rev. Daley of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in NYC. He doesn’t think there is much merit in the request. This is a Sister of the Catholic Church, Mother Teresa. It would be appropriate if St. Patricks Cathedral in NYC have some kind of visable recognition of her on her 100th birhday on August 26th. Everyone in NYC is not Roman Catholic, all visitors to NYC are of different faiths, all people in upper NY are not Roman Catholic, the same with Long Island and Brooklyn. The Empire State Bldg. is not a Church, it belongs to the secular world of NYC.

  • pagansister

    Why should a public building serve the Catholic Church? Since she was a Catholic nun, let one of the big churches do “lights” in blue and white.
    I have often wondered if she was as “wonderful” as was claimed. I had heard that she doubted a lot about what she believed. True? Who knows?

  • nnmns

    Good points Henrietta. Could it be they are trying to make an issue out of this to get peoples’ minds off the pedophilia and covering-up-pedophilia scandals that go on and on?

  • Your Name

    Naaaw, it couldn’t be. Just couldn’t be. COULD it?
    Naaaw, that’s just kraaazee talk.
    Let them light Lourdes.
    ;{O)
    CAPTCHA: “jacuzzi away” !!!

  • cknuck

    nnmns I no longer wonder about you, you obviously put a lot of effort in coming up with the yahoo conversational blog to post “Mother Theresa quite likely died a atheist” which is without a doubt nonsense but just enough mud for you to throw. I have a wonderful friend who spent a lot of time with her and she is who she is and so are you.

  • cknuck

    I don’t think the good nun would have thought much of the idea regardless of what her friends think about it.

  • nnmns

    Google the words Mother Theresa atheist and glance over the responses. That’s what I did. It’s widely hypothesized, based on her writings.
    Oh, and you should do your homework before attacking what I write. Otherwise you’ll continue to look like a fool.

  • cknuck

    I’m no fool nnmns you can find anything you want on the www, anything, make anything say anything according to your bent.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Actually the thing to do is to read some of her writings. And there you will find that she struggled with God over His ways and her faith as so many other great saints have. This is the “mystical path” followed by some rare great Catholics as did some in the Bible who “wrestled with God.”
    As far as lighting the building for her–I wonder about what motivates some people to celebrate a Chinese Communist government’s beginning when it was responsible for murdering millions upon millions of its own citizens but not wanting to do it for a woman whose life was dedicated to caring for others. As far as not honoring her great service to the poor and dieing because she was a Catholic nun–what other categories of people should we refuse to publicly honor because some people have constricted minds???

  • nnmns

    “I’m no fool nnmns you can find anything you want on the www, anything, make anything say anything according to you.”
    Much like the Bible, eh cknuck. But maybe just a little more trustworthy.
    D.J. I have no idea why they celebrated those things but it doesn’t mean they need to light the place up every time some celeb has a birthday. That’s got to be expensive and every day is someone’s birthday.

  • cknuck

    I don’t know anyone in the bible with a relationship with God who did not wrestle with God only a fool who does not know how to read the bible would equate that with being an atheist.

  • nnmns

    Some quotes from her letters, here:

    Where is my faith?” she wrote. “Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness… If there be God — please forgive me.”

    and eight years later

    “Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal,” she said

    and still later

    “What do I labor for?” she asked in one letter. “If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true.”

    This may sound to you like a person wrestling with her god but to me it sounds like a person who wants to believe in the god she grew up with and thinks she’s been serving, wrestling with herself over whether that god exists.

  • pagansister

    Thanks for those quotes, nnmns. Sounds like a large amount of doubt from Mother Teresa. The RCC is considering her for sainthood. Guess they really need yet another person to pray too.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Part of the problem some people have with Mother Teresa’s mystic path to God is that so many of us have been brought up with a childish, immature faith that stopped growing when we graduated from Sunday school in our early teens. Many have never read any spiritual works that look deeply into adult faith or spiritual topics like the mystic way.
    Notice in nnmns’s quotes:
    After questioning her work and her faith M.T. addresses Jesus (hardly the mark of an atheist). Some say the mystic way is the way of questioning and seeking so as to do God’s will–some experts claim this is the purest form of faith.
    It is clear from biographies that early on–leading to her decisions in starting her religious order–she had powerful mystical experiences of God’s presence.
    Once “the ball was rolling” so to speak, God knew that she would carry on until the end so there was no need to grant her further deep experiences of His presence and direction.
    But once one has had a powerful experience of God’s presence, it is as if one is submerged in darkness when the experience ends. Then longing for, desire for God becomes almost overpowering when the experience doesn’t return.
    In the meanwhile a “saint” goes on with one’s mission in life from God: Praying, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, the sorrowing, and those in prison, giving water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, etc.

  • nnmns

    DJMB what you describe sounds like experiences with drugs. And when you say “…God knew that she would carry on…” isn’t got supposed to know everything, to the end of time. Or is your RC god that different than the various protestant gods we hear about. As for addressing Jesus, presumably she’d have been in the hbit (no pun intended) of doing that for years, with no response of course, so why wouldn’t she still do it when she wasn’t sure anyone was listening. Probably I should have said she quite likely died an agnostic.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    nnmns–I guess trying to explain something religious-spiritual to someone who is apparently tightly wound up in cynicism is a lost cause.
    The irony is that religious believers and seekers are usually stereotyped as the ones with the determinedly closed minds. But one does not have to read too many blogs and comments on the internet to realize the reverse is usually true.
    Of course God knew what Mother Teresa would do if He no longer blessed her with experiences of His presence and direction. He knew she would carry out the mission he had given to her. He also knew that after these experiences she would so strongly miss them and passionately long for them that she at times would even doubt how faithful she really was to Him. This is not uncommon among even the strongest believers. There is even a passage in the Gospels somewhere where a person is saying to Jesus “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief.” So the two existing in the same person is acceptable to God. It is how we use our free will to deal with it that is important. Do we seek Him with an open mind and heart or do we decide we can’t be bothered.
    And of course there is nothing I write that can’t be met with a snarl, a sneer, or cynicism from those whose minds and hearts run in that direction.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    A strange discussion–people speculating on whether Mother Teresa’s faith was strong, weak, or nonexistent. And some confident assurances about how God dealt with her.
    Consider these 4 people: Mr. A absolutely believes in God and lives to help others. Mr. B absolutely believes in God but makes no effort to help others. Mr. C is an atheist who lives to help others. Mr. D is an atheist who makes no effort to help others.
    Which is more important–that A and B are believers whereas C and D are atheists? Or that A and C live to help others whereas B and D make no effort to help others?
    And would it matter if any of these people were NOT absolute in the belief or disbelief, but uncertain or wavering?
    All of which is to say–who cares what Mother Teresa believed or didn’t believe? We know her, as we know each other, all of us, by our fruits–what we do, not what doctrine we proclaim or how loudly and insistently we proclaim it.

  • jestrfyl

    This seems simple enough. It is their building – they can light it as they choose – or not. The RCc folks need to find a way to light their own landmark and not try to force others to meet their needs. I doubt petition and marches will change their minds.

  • cknuck

    nnmns for a person like you (who does nothing for mankind and hates God and would love to dissuade as many folk as he could in their belief) to attempt to dissect a life such as Mother Theresa by taking some of her quotes out of context is much like maggots eating the eyeballs out of a dead body.

  • cknuck

    Very good example H4C

  • nnmns

    cknuck you have no idea what I do for mankind and as I’ve told you repeatedly I’m sure there is no god so I don’t hate any. Do you hate the Easter Bunny? Allah?
    It wasn’t my idea MT was an agnostic – it was apparently hers. And lots of more knowledgeable people than me have commented about it. I just pointed it out; don’t shoot the messenger!
    But of course since she’s one of the RCC’s lights, at least to most people, they would fight any idea she wasn’t theirs after all.

  • cknuck

    the things I am sure don’t exist are not the leading topics of my converstaion as a matter of fact I nver talk about things I don’t think exist. Can you see the problem nnmns?

  • Confessoressa

    Mother Teresa did some good things but she also was particularly harmful to society by submitting to the dogma (also known as letting other people decide morality for you) that is Catholic teaching. That building was lit up for The Grateful Dead as I recall, by the way. Why not light it up with pictures of the suffering in the world. A place like Manhattan where the per capita income is pretty freaking high could use a little enlightenment on where better than Madison Avenue to spend their money.
    I think Mother Teresa and Jerry Garcia would approve.

  • nnmns

    I see your problem cknuck. You can’t get your mind around the idea that some people’s beliefs in things that don’t exist are screwing up the world.

  • David

    One thing we ALL must remember… CREATOR GOD is not a repsector of persons. While she did many good things on her earthly journey. NO human as the “right” to claim her as a SAINT. It would be blasphemy to light the torch in her ‘honor’.

  • Henrietta22

    Nnmns, believing in God is not screwing up the world. What is screwing up the world is the men and women who use God as an excuse for everything that is wrong in our world. The people who use their religion to control justice for all people is wrong. Follow the Ten Commandments and nobody can go wrong. Follow the Beatitudes and there you are!

  • cknuck

    nnmns if you get out of your simple-minded hate then you would be correct in saying “some people are screwing up the world” and I would agree with a statement like that, which by the way would be more in line with a person who actually has no belief in God.

  • cknuck

    Thge majority of people who are actually messing up the earth believe in money not gods at least other then themselves as gods.

  • nnmns

    Some people are screwing up the world. Many of them are greedy but that hardly prevents them from being religious. Some of them use their religion as an excuse to do it and not worry about it since they seem to expect to be taken off earth before the real badness starts, and some talk disparagingly of worshiping the earth rather than its creator. Some religious leaders fight birth control, which can help people limit their populations and thus incidentally go easier on the earth.
    And, of course, many religious people are concerned and working to save the planet. Some probably because of their religion, some because they see it’s the right thing to do.

  • Carole

    Mother Teresa spent her life trying to do God’s will and to teach people that God loves them, by her examples of simple faith and works of mercy. It did not matter to her what religion or socio economic status a person in need found themselves in. She loved all, and tried to do small things well, in God’s name. Her sincere approach to life, putting others before self, continues to inspire people of the world to be better human beings. Her followers humbly serve others throughout the world, including majors cities throughout the USA. She should be honored with beacon lights in every country on her 100th birthday. These beacons will remind us of our own need to work for the best outcomes for humanity.

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