The Empire State Building won't be giving off the kind of religious glow Catholics were hoping for this August 26. Owner Anthony E. Malkin has declined a request to change the tower's light display to blue and white in honor of Mother Teresa's 100th birthday — citing "a specific policy" against "requests by religions and religious organizations." Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, isn't buying it, saying Malkin's decision smacks of anti-Catholic bigotry. Is this really an insult? (Watch a Fox News report about the Mother Teresa snub)
This "policy" is certainly inconsistent: What a shameful way to treat the memory of the "Angel of Calcutta," say the editors of the New York Post. Nobel-Prize winner Mother Teresa did so much for the sick and the poor, including opening a New York City chapter of her Sisters of Charity and a local AIDS hospice. Malkin has no good reason for refusing — despite what he says, his building has honored plenty of religious leaders, including John Cardinal O'Connor and Pope John Paul II.
"Agreeing about an angel"
There's hypocrisy in the Catholic League's outrage: "Call the decision not to honor Mother Teresa inconsistent and foolish," says Paul Moses in Commonweal. But bigoted? It's worth noting that Donohue decided to call Christine Quinn, the speaker of New York's City Council who's supporting his attack on Malkin, a "very good Catholic" — even though she's a lesbian who "vigorously" supports same-sex marriage.
"Empire State Building, continued"
At least Mother Teresa's getting some attention: Malkin can do whatever he wants — it's his building, says Jen Doll in the Village Voice. But it would be easier to take if he offered a legitimate reason for turning down the request. Still, the Catholic League is getting the last laugh: "This whole debate has brought more attention to Mother Teresa than some blue and white lights in the NYC skyline ever would have."
"Empire State Building won't light up for Mother Teresa, then lies, which Mother Teresa really would have hated (but forgiven)"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- The best books we read in 2014
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How I lost all my money
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week