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June 10th, 2010
11:39 AM ET

Empire State Building declines to light up for Mother Teresa

CNN's Mythili Rao reports from New York:

August marks what would have been Mother Teresa's 100th birthday, with commemorative masses, exhibitions and other events around the world heralding the occasion. But count the Empire State Building out of the celebrations.

New York City's tallest skyscraper has declined to shine the colorful, festive lights that it reserves for special occasions in her honor, leaving some of the nun's followers feeling slighted.

"Selection as an Empire State Building Lighting Partner is at the sole discretion of the ownership and management of the Empire State Building Company LLC," the privately owned building's website says. The site says that selection is "a privilege, not an entitlement."

Outside its practice of lightings for Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah and Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan), the Empire State Building "has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations," ESB owner Anthony E. Malkin said in a statement.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights, called the decision "mind-boggling" and "indefensible and obscene," speculating that anti-Catholic bigotry was at play.

"Malkin has made his decision to stiff Catholics," Donohue said. "His decision to double down at this juncture - in the face of massive support for our request - is something he will regret for the rest of his life."

The Catholic League plans to demonstrate outside the Empire State Building on August 26, which would have been the 100th birthday of Mother Teresa, who cared for the poor and homeless of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. She died in 1997.

The Catholic League says over 40,000 people have signed a petition in favor of the lights. "I think that too many Catholics have fallen asleep at the wheel," Donohue told CNN. "It's time for people, the rank and file to say enough is enough. I hope it's going to be nonviolent, I wouldn't encourage violence but I know there's a lot of anger."

The brewing controversy has found an ally in New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn, a Catholic. Quinn said that lighting the Empire State Building in Mother Teresa's honor would "be a very uplifting and unifying and inspiring message to have at a time when I think the city could use it."

"I think the organization that owns the Empire State Building seeing this as a religious request is really missing much of the significance of the life's work of Mother Teresa, across the world and in New York City," Quinn said.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York said that a spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

The lighting tradition dates back to 1932, when the Empire State Building shined a 50-mile searchlight beacon to announce that Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected president. Colored lighting wasn't introduced til 1976, when the tower was lit in red, white and blue for the American Bicentennial.

The vast majority of the occasions and organizations honored in lights by the Empire State Building are secular causes - June honorees include the World Series, Caribbean Week, and the Belmont Stakes, among others - but the building has been known to make exceptions, honoring Pope John Paul II and former New York Archbishop John Joseph O'Connor in years past.

In May, the skyscraper was lit blue and white to call attention to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York's Salute to Israel Parade.

The Empire State Building has been recognized as an official landmark by the National Parks Services and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission since the 1980s.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Culture wars

soundoff (371 Responses)
  1. S GEORGE

    Lighting the Empire State building a day would cost between $5000-9000.. turn off the light for a day and give that money for a cause.. Give it to Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.. don’t fight for silly things..

    June 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • ANURSE

      Amen!!!

      June 10, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  2. MJ

    Ummmmmm...who cares what light colors shine on top of a building? What has the world come to when a guy starts bashing a building operator for not shining specific light colors on a building for a nun. I am catholic and I say who really cares!!! You people need to get a life.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  3. US airmen

    Need to call a whaaaaambalance, are you kdding me. Everything must be rightous and true with the Catholic Church if they have the time to cry, stomp their feet and protest this.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  4. Fred

    I totally understand why the Catholics are up in arms over this. I dealt with the same thing in September of '09 when they wouldn't light up for my 42nd birthday. I'm not going to stop the fight either as it is my right, not the building owners, as to when the building is lit up for special occasions.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • Matt

      Best post, Fred. I just want you to know: I was thinking of you on your 42nd. Congrats.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
    • duh

      well how dare they! don't they know who you are?? I think I'll never buy another Empire trinket again as long as I live just to protest the inhumanity of it all! The gall of some people just never ceases to amaze me. Glad you had a good birthday – try again this year and maybe they will rethink their position! thanks for a great post 🙂

      June 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Aaron

    The Empire State Building's owners know what's important. They lit it green last year to celebrate 25 years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Mother TheresWHO?!

    June 10, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
  6. Kathy

    For Catholics to accuse the Empire State Building owners as being anti-Catholic is obscene and akin to stomping their feet and holding their breath until they get what they want. The Empire State Building lit up for Pope John Paul and the Archbishop O'Connor. The fact reamains that the Empire State Building is under private ownership and it is up to them to light the lights. She already is half way to becoming a Saint, although what miracle she performed is unknown to me.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
    • Steve

      That miracle would be actually caring about people....maybe you havent been out among the general populace in a while...

      June 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • nymetschick

      Well, hell...I care about people. That's no miracle and no buildings are lighting up for me. She was a person who did good deeds. If we lit up the town for every person who has ever done a good deed, we'd have a HUGE electric bill. And did she do good deeds to be recognized in lights? I don't think so.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • Zack

      Unless that day is already "taken" for another person/cause, then why not do it? It's hardly a bad thing to do. It's a simple request and I don't see the reason for not doing it.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • NakkiNyan

      Because they need to keep religious bias to a minimum and they already have shown quite a bit of bias toward the Catholics by celebrating their leaders in the past. Where are the lights for Muhammad? Celebration of Buddhism? You worry about having your idols celebrated but don't bother arguing for others.

      June 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  7. bill

    After the beatings the church has taken for years, they found the answer. Bring mother Teresa back to life. That would solve everything. I have a better idea. Brink all those child molesting priest and taken them up to empire state building. Then one by one drop them.
    Just a joke folks but the idea is interesting..

    June 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
    • boocat

      Joke or not...I like your idea...

      June 10, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • nymetschick

      I like that idea, too!

      June 10, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  8. Nik

    I think both parties are wrong, the catholic church for planning to show pomp around the poor's Saint and building owners by refusing it.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  9. Roland

    This is private property so the owner should be able to do what he wants. At the same time, New Yorkers have the right to speak out against his actions and urge others not to spend money on his property (for example, don't take the Empire State Building tour or buy Empire Building trinkets.) But by all means, keep the government out of it!!

    June 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  10. Matthew Viti

    Why does the Catholic Chruch feel they need to bully everyone and everything into submission? I feel the time that the church has wasted over this matter could have been better spent nurturing and healing the souls of God's forgotten children.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • Mac1177

      Where does it say the Catholic church is involved in anyway? You idiots should learn to read.

      June 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
    • Critical Thinker

      "Why does the Catholic Chruch feel they need to bully everyone and everything into submission?"

      This article has nothing to do with the Catholic Church. Mr. Donohue is a private individual who happens to be Catholic and who leads a private organization dedicated to causes related to the Catholic Church and faith.

      While I think it would be wonderful if the owners of the Empire State Building would honor Mother Teresa, it is certainly their right not to. Mr. Donohue is completely out of line in calling this decision "mind boggling, indefensible, and obscene" and publically questioning their motivation. I pray that one day he will recognize that such over the top responses do more to hurt his causes than to help them.

      I suggest that those who would like to see the Mother Teresa so honored take a few minutes to pray instead of (NOT in addition to) complaining about the situation.

      June 10, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
  11. Mike

    Something tells me the owner is not going to "regret this for the rest of his life."

    June 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  12. James

    Mother Teresa would have cared less. She was a humble servant of God taking care of the sick and poor "untouchables" of Kolkata.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Russ

      No she was about being amongst them in their pain and suffering. She deliberately prevented many suffering people from getting relief while she jetted around the world being feted by the glitterati. All the while tens of millions of dollars piled up in bank accounts and the sick suffered in squalor. Theres a place in Hell for people like her.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • Eileen

      Absolutely agree, I don't think she cares about the lights on the ESB being lit in her honor. She has way better Light where she is! 🙂

      June 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
    • Critical Thinker

      re: Russ – "She deliberately prevented many suffering people from getting relief while she jetted around the world being feted by the glitterati. All the while tens of millions of dollars piled up in bank accounts and the sick suffered in squalor."

      Care to support these claims with some actual facts?

      June 10, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  13. TikvahCo

    They are just trying to be fair to everyone so no one can say "Well, you did it for them, why not us?" Let it go. And let those who are in a furor put their efforts into something good and enlightening for a change.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  14. jeff

    She even admitted in year diary that's she her lost her faith towards the end of her life.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • Conguero

      She didn't lose her faith and did not confess or admit that she did. She said near the end ..."Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal," How do you long for something or someone that you know doesn't exist? Btw, questioning your zeal and level of faith is normal. She also said ... ""What do I labor for? ... if there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true." Sounds like the Bible to me when Paul reasons in
      1 Corinthians 15:12-19
      "12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up–if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable."

      If there is no Christ, no ressurection, no soul, what was Mother Teresa laboring for? That's what she was asking. She knew the answer. The fact is she did give her life to labor of love and not for naught because Jesus Christ is alive and well and now she is in his presence rejoicing.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
    • JDD

      No, she said that she lost her sense of God's presence. There's a big difference. Like when my father goes away for a long trip, but I know I still have a father.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • Conguero

      She also said in ""Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness... If there be God — please forgive me."
      Faith is not a feeling. There will be times when a beleiver is on a figurative mountain top, and other times when they are in a dark valley. She had doubts. That's normal. So what? She was praying to God ... if you're out there, forgive me. Praying, itself, is an act of faith. Why do it if there is no one to hear your prayers. The act of prayer alone is you saying... I believe Someone is listening. Why do it otherwise?

      June 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
    • Critical Thinker

      "She even admitted in year diary that's she her lost her faith towards the end of her life."

      Actually, quite the opposite. Even though she went through a long period of darkness with regard to her faith, she never lost it. Instead of allowing herself to be driven by her feelings (or lack thereof), she recognized intellectually that the Faith was not only true but necessary for her eternal survival and maintained it despite the complete lack of any emotional drive to do so.

      In this, Mother Teresa should serve as an example to us all: that ultimately it is our intellect and will, not our emotions, that must drive how we act. Emotions are fine when they lead us in the right direction; when they don't we must recognize that and act accordingly.

      June 10, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
    • Andrew

      Jeff
      Even if Mother Teresa admitted to the failing of her faith, she still did good work. I know a nun who spent eight years with her in Calcutta and she never aimed at converting anyone. She just did the physical work caring for the helpless.
      Let us stop denigrating the memory of an outstanding human being.

      June 10, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
    • Eileen

      The empire state building was lit in yellow and red to celebrate communist china, but it won' t be lit for a woman great woman of peace? Gee no wonder our nation is in such peril!

      June 11, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
  15. George

    Rao,nothin better to do ?? SHUT UP !!

    June 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  16. JDD

    Clearly Mother Teresa was not just a "religous cause."

    And not just a Catholic cause.

    She and her sisters cared for – and still care for – the poor and the dying. New York would do well to honor her.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  17. Robert

    It is the building owner's right to refuse. End of story. I also agree there are better more concerning issues that the church could put their time to good use for.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Not a Demogogue

      +1

      I think the Empire State Building ought to shine its lights on behalf of a living nun (Sister Margaret) not a deceased one - unlike Bill Donohue I am not attempting to intimidate a private property owner with veiled threats of violence unless he does what I tell him to do.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  18. Rich

    Heck just leave the lights on all the time and run up the electric bill. She was a wonderful person perhaps but there are lots of special people.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  19. Ted

    Mother Therese facilitated suffering. She believed to suffer was to be closer to God. Also, many of her beliefs are counter-culture, yes, even the culture of those same Catholics who want her revered. To wit: How many of them were abstinent before marriage?

    She did do some good work. Really good work. But c'mon, these lights? You're up in arms about these lights? Really? Find a real cause.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • Mosman

      Well, Ted. Unlike Mother Theresa of Calcutta, I doubt you every went into a street, picked up a sick, starving person, and took care of them like the Good Samaritan as Christ told. Don't be silly.

      June 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
    • Steve

      To be honest, mosman, I doubt you have either. Ply the log from your own eye before attempting to remove the mote from anothers.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • Mosman

      Ted, I'll bet you just quoted the only scripture passage you know. One of the convenient ones, of course.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Mosman

      Ted, I appologize for the unnecessary ruide comment I just made. However, suffering was not facilitated by Mother Theresa. Suffering is simply part of the human condition.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • Blutosski

      Here is my Cause; I will not step foot into the ESB and I will encourage my friends and family to refrain from doing so as well. As has been pointed out it is their building their rules, it is my money my rules. new rule; they don't get my money.
      simple solution to a disagreement.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • billp

      Ted, you make an important distinction that is correct – Mother Teresa revered suffering, not sufferers.

      As for your point that those up in arms about this should find a more worthy cause – remember that persecution, real or imagined, has always been one of the pillars of the Catholic Church and a way to keep its flock in line.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
    • Tuna

      No, Mosmon... when you have vast sums of money, and medicine and decide not to use it to reduce someones pain or suffering because you believe pain and suffering brings you closer to Christ... you facilitate pain and suffering.

      Mother Teresa flew all over the world taking pictures with dictators so amass large amounts of money, but her dogmatic and unethical beliefs prevented her from alleviating suffering... her saintly image is an illusion.

      There are a number of books on the subject. If you even take them with a grain of salt at the very least realize all people are fallible and it is easy for people to latch onto an idea about a person instead of confronting reality.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
    • Mosman

      TUNA: suffering is the means by which God experienced our humanity. Accepting our own suffering, while trying to relieve others pain, is how we respond to God.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
    • Russ

      Mosman – what a horrible philosophy: using your imaginary friend to justify letting people suffer. Only deluded people like you and Mother Teresa would subscribe to such an obscene outlook. Shame on you and her!

      June 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • kingtrick

      You seriously believe suffering has to be part of the human condition? are you freaking kidding me!? think for yourself once in awhile. you may just like it.

      June 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
  20. Nicholas Mayr

    Wouldn't it be better to celebrate Mother Teresa's birthday with a day of service to the poor than by protesting the Empire State Building's decision not to light up?

    June 10, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • RS

      I agree with Nicholas Mayr. Why can't they just service the poor in memory of Mother Teresa ?

      I was irritated reading Mr. Donohue's accusations that their doing this to spite the Catholics. That's neither here nor there. The person or persons who make the decision, decided that they'd rather opt out of it. Why should they be forced to shine lights for Mother Teresa if they'd rather not ? Whatever their reasoning behind this choice is their own to deal with. If you force them to light the lights or harrass them or what have you, then I feel sorry for you for doing that. A person's decision is a decision none the less. Lay off people !

      June 10, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • T. Ferguson

      So to honor Mother Teresa; a person who WORKED for and with some of the poorest people in the world while at the same time not complaining about ANYTHING, you're going to stop working inorder to stand outside a PRIVATLY owned building and complain about how they're not doing what you want. Wow, way to honor Mother Teresa's incredible grace and effort. Why can't people just disagree? Why isn't a disagreement ok? Why does it have to result in a spectacle?

      June 10, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • Darius

      Why don't we light it up for the anniversary of Mohammad's death? It's already lit up at Christmas time, how can anyone even try to say they are doing it to 'stiff Catholics'? This just proves that religious zealotry is just plain silly.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
    • Nicholas Mayr

      I agree with Nicholas Mayr that certainly echoes Mother Teresa wishes during her life. Mother Teresa spoke at my graduation from IONA College in 1976. It was then that I had a chance to ask her 'how can we help you" to which she
      replied "Please help your neighbor"

      June 10, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
    • marat

      "Mother" Teresa had a huge dark side that fewer admirers of her know. The media painted her as a selfless saint, her deeds were all to relieve the suffering of humanity, but underneath that image, we have a different picture. Christopher Hitchens and other veteran journalists have written extensively about this. How many people know that tons and tons of volunteer workers at those orphanages in India complained about the terrible conditions that the indigent were made to live with? How many people know that the pleaded with her for essential life-giving supplies. What you need to know is that Teresa was an ideologue whose FIRST "love" was Jesus and she looked through that prism when seeing these poor masses–she elevated the fact of their suffering to be "Christlike." In essence, by suffering with limited aid from her, they were "emulating Jesus" in her strange mind. I have no agenda to bash her, but a Saint? Hardly. I urge anyone who has the courage to split from the image we have all been indoctrinated with to read up on Teresa the **person** and how she ran what became a mega-business. You will be shocked at the allegations of those who worked at these facilities, the minimal supplies they had, the limited food that was allowed.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
    • jackryan

      I think if Jesus were in Bill Donohue's position, he would have responded the same way – getting overly angry and making threats. And Mother Teresa would also definitely have approved.

      June 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • German M.

      I agree with Nicholas Mayr

      June 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • Mystic River

      >>Wouldn't it be better to celebrate Mother Teresa's birthday with a day of service to the poor than by protesting the Empire State Building's decision not to light up?<<

      Well said.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • Ryan, Columbus OH

      Absolutely it would be better to celebrate with a day of service to the poor. In fact, I find it terribly inappropriate for Bill Donohue to be making blind threats and accusations toward Anthony Malkin. His comment that "too many Catholics have fallen asleep at the wheel" and that the decision is "indenefensible and obscene" is completely out of line. Malkin is not doing a disservice by refusing to light up the Empire State Building, and Donohue's arrogance in assuming that Catholics are even in the driver's seat of such decisions to begin with is astounding. Members of the CLRCR should feel more concerned that Mother Teresa spent the latter part of her life doubting her religious faith, not that an office building refuses to bend to their will. For more on that, please read http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2321124.ece

      June 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
    • Zak

      Why can't we do both? Why does it have to be either help the poor or protest?

      June 10, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
    • Mtka

      Agreed Nicolas. And to you Bill Donahue – President of the Catholic League............have you put as much thought into the rampant pedophilia in the Catholic church as you have this Empire State Building issue??????

      June 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
    • Karan

      Bill Donohue is an idiot who sees anti-catholic bias everywhere, just like Sienfeld's Uncle Leo saw anti-semitism everywhere. Bet Bill would call Jesus anti Catholic if he came down and punished the pope for protecting pedophiles.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
    • prankster

      Wow,that Bill Donohue always trips me out. He hopes there won't be violence!!! If you'd like to know more about the life of Mother Teresa read the book by Christopher Hitchens.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • AGuest9

      If it really bothers you that badly, go work in a soup kitchen, or volunteer at the community center in her memory.

      June 10, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
    • sully

      It's a privately owned building. The buildings owners need to cut a deal with Donahue and his friends, they decorate their houses appropriately for Hanukkah and Eid al-Fitr and they will shine the lights for Mother Teresa. Hippocrates.

      June 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
    • san

      The number of Catholics in India is around 24 million. It is nowhere close to the population of the USA.

      June 10, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • S. Ferrante

      Once again religion causing drama and making useless news! So many more important things to be reporting on, discussing, helping. MT was a great woman and did many wonderful things for so many. However, the Empire's policies are what they are, Donohue is a useless thing as well but loves to create trouble. The Catholic church has loads of money and I'm sure they could do a 100 other things to celebrate her and HELP others in the process. That might actually be news worth reporting. This crap is silly. As is often the case religion whatever kind is creating a useless stir!

      June 10, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • Jill-Renay

      I totally agree with Nicholas! Come on, guys! Really, a protest??? Aren't there better things to do with your time and money? Would Mother Teresa approve of a protest for something as meaningless as having lights lit for her birthday?

      June 10, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • Tony

      It's appropriate that the life and works of Mother Teresa should continue to go unrecognized. She didn't work to call attention to herself. Even her death was overshadowed by that of Princess Diana...And who is more celebrated?

      June 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • Jack

      I think it's funny how CNN left out the fact that they lit the Empire State Building for Communist China but cannot do it for someone who dedicated her life to helping people regardless of her religion. God knows the Communist New Network does not want to put down communism. For that is their ultimate goal for us here.

      June 10, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
    • Rosemary L

      Great idea to do a day of charity. But, we can still have some lights. Just ask the Empire State Building to keep their lights off on that day and then ask every building in the city to show some blue and white lights in their buildings.

      June 10, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • Nicholas Nickleby

      Light a spliff in her honor instead.

      June 10, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • paul lefebvre

      the catholic church has been exclusionary and bigoted since it's inception so it's ironic that Bill Donohue has the nerve to say his pagan cult is being discriminated against.

      June 10, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
    • Dan

      There is nothing to celebrate as far as obscurantism is concerned: All this religious stuff is sickening. We don't need any more brainwashing that already exist. If mother Theresa had worked for a non-religious group she could have truly help. Instead, working for the catholic church, she was NOT the friend of the poor, she was the friends of poverty! A BIG difference. What she did was criminal (same as what the pope is doing): you don't stop uneducated poor people from using condoms. On the contrary, you educate them and teach them how to use them to help them avoid unwanted pregnancy and STD. People are amazed at mother Theresa hugging an HIV positive poor: if she had done her job, that person would most likely not got HIV in the first place, but, for the catholic church, it is very important, vital to it's survival, to keep people poor and uneducated because this way, they can control them and abuse them (emotionally, financially and physically as we unfortunately discovered). In conclusion? Great decision to not turn the light and not to celebrate the push to obscurantism from an extremely abusive church.

      June 10, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
    • paul

      I doubt Mother Teresa would think that William Donohue speaks for her. She did not have a ounce self rightousness like Donohue does. She spoke of mercy he speaks of hate .He is a embrassment for Cathlolics everywhere dishonors Mother Teresa by thinking he can speak for her. why doesnt the American Catholic Church DENOUNCE WILLIAM DONOHUE?

      June 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
    • hush

      I am waiting for Bill Donohue to throw himself to the ground, scream, and kick his feet. If he really wants to honor her memory, he can start showing immediate concern for the homeless of New York City,. Start working in a homeless kitchen, work as a volunteer in a shelter, make a donation . Man up Bill and honor her personally by doing something worthwhile!

      June 10, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
    • JoeBlow

      I think its strange that the owners of the building had no problem lighting up for the anniversary of the communist take over in China which included the massacre of thousands of innocent civilians, yet they're taking a stand over celebrating the life of a human being who dedicated it to helping the poor and less fortunate. Forget what religion she was, take into consideration the value of her actions, which were more important and admirable than any actions all of us posting on this site combined could aspire to be.

      June 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
    • Walter Ramsey

      For the World Series and not Mother Teresa.... half of New York is run by Jews who only care about their feelings of persecution, real or imagined. Why not shine the light on a HUMAN of true dedication to the struggles of unfortunate Human Beings ? Maybe they were not Jews.

      June 10, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
    • B. Stringer

      Yeah, who do those people think they are??????? I think they think they are the oweners of the building and as such they can do whatever the heck they like with it.

      June 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
    • Zach

      Wow the Catholics need to seriously back off, the Empire State building IS privately owned and they shouldn't make such a hissy fit about this.

      June 10, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
    • MJ

      Well, the only intent of her missonary was to spread christianity and India is a soft target being a tolerant society. The kid which is claimed to be cured by her was actually cured by the doctors, it was routine ailment.The family just went for a visit there and took blessings which is a culture in India to take blessings from elderly. For this she was made a saint. comeon....

      June 10, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
    • CW

      I agree with building owners, if they have policies set inplace that forbid any other "religious" ceremonys other than the .ones they have decided on. Because if they do it for this occasion then next thing you know every other religious group out there would be trying to sue for discrimination. Not to mention the NAACP would complaing because they wouldnt light it up for the whole month of February.

      June 10, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
    • Cornelious

      Why not both display the lights and volunteering for the poor.?

      June 10, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
    • kmc

      I completely agree. Instead of honoring Mother Theresa, Donohue and his gang are going to throw a hiss fit. No wonder we catholics have 'lose our way' or is it that we cannot follow their way. And can someone please remind Ms. Quinn on the Catholic Church's position on lesbians. I don't think she quite heard it.

      June 10, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
    • BAM

      The Christian Taliban does not believe in peace and walking what they preach, they believe in Crusading against ALL non believers. Why is this surprising.... did you fail World HIstory? They already have enough Mullahs in Africa bibling smacking them for food.

      June 10, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
    • momma

      Why doesn't the Christian Taliban do what Mother Theresa would have done. Humbly accepted this decision. NOT that she would have wasted her precious work to even think of such non sense. The Christian Taliban needs to stop trying to over power all non believers. Intelligent people of the 20th century see the non sense of religion. This aint the 1500's when we prayed for rain son.

      June 10, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • Polar Cap

      Ah, how we soon get off topic! First of all, the Empire State Building has made exceptions for Catholics in the past (see the article) so Mr Donahue's argument is bogus. I agree that once you make exceptions it's tough to decide what else should be an exception...and in that vein the ESB has created its own monster. People like Mr Donahue do not help our efforts as a society to learn to include and except people of all faiths. He is a polarizing influence in the same way as the Jewish Defense League and far right Christian organizations. In fact, I was once told that I was not a Christian since I was not "Born Again"! What a telling piece of hypocracy that was! Jesus must have revved up to 1,000 RPM spinning in his grave over that one.

      June 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • Robert

      I agree with Nicholas. Mother Theresa's humility would preempt a true Catholic from asking a building to be lit up in her honor. Message to Bill Donahue, it appears that you are shamefully using her fame to increase your own, but, as a Catholic myself, I don't judge other people and give you the benefit of the doubt. As for the ESB and its position, so should you.

      June 14, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • Jeff Gray

      You hit the nail on the head Nicholas – excellent point!

      June 14, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • KGS

      She served the poorest of the poor, if she were alive she wouldn't ask for lights to be lit on skyscrappers, but bring a little light into the hearts of the very same poor. forget the biased folks who control the NY elite scape...

      June 14, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
    • Maria Weiser

      I agree with Nicholas Mayr. Donohue is stirring up a tempest in a teapot. The Empire State Building is privately owned and its owners have the right to decide what they want to do. Threats and accusations are just another example of the strongarm tactics of the Catholic church.

      June 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
    • zachschwanbeck

      This is most non-story story, non-controversy controversy I've ever heard. Are a building's colored lights really worth more than 3 seconds attention from ANYONE? The ESB has a reasonable policy of not letting the lighting turn into a battle of who's most deserving of the 'right' to have their colors lit up, only the top 365 spots making the cut. And if they give in to one group, they will have to give into everyone. BTW I've met Tony Malkin and I really doubt he's spending any time thinking up ways to slight catholics.

      June 15, 2010 at 1:32 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.