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August 26th, 2010
10:18 PM ET

Hundreds rally at Empire State Building to protest refusal to honor Mother Teresa

CNN's Marcia Biggs filed this report from New York:

A few hundred people gathered outside New York's Empire State Building on Thursday evening to protest the building owner's decision not to acknowledge Mother Teresa's birthday.

The Roman Catholic nun, Nobel Prize winner, and champion of the sick and poor would have been 100 years old on Thursday. Some Catholics had asked the building's owner, Anthony E. Malkin, to bathe the building in blue and white lights in honor of the colors of her order, the Missionaries of Charity.

Malkin refused, saying he wanted to avoid setting a precedent for honoring religious figures.

But William Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, called the move "indefensible... an insult to Catholics."

"Is he that stupid that now he's known as the anti-Mother Teresa elite in New York City?" Donohue said.

Donohue organized the Thursday rally outside the building's entrance, which featured speeches from Jews–including comedian Jackie Mason–Christians, Hindus, and state and city politicians.

"This is going to turn out bigger than it would have been if he'd lit the building," said one protester. "Whether he lights the building or not, she (Mother Teresa) won. We're all here."

While some critics say the rally would have disappointed Mother Teresa, famous for her avoidance of the limelight, a Catholic priest in the crowd said he thought she would think it was "marvelous."

Mother Teresa arrived in India in 1929 and dedicated her life to help those in need, most famously in Calcutta. She died in India in 1997 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2003.

Donohue said that the Empire State Building had celebrated The Simpsons Movie DVD release, the anniversary of the formation of the People's Republic of China and a recent Mariah Carey album with special lights.

As night fell on New York on Thursday, the iconic skyscraper was lit up in red, white, and blue to honor the anniversary of women's suffrage.

Still, conspicuously absent from the rally were any blue and white saris. Not unlike the way in which they live every day, her own Missionaries of Charity may have preferred to mark her birthday in quieter fashion.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • New York • United States

soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. wholesale shoes china

    I'll immediately take hold of your rss as I can't find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me recognize in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  2. FYI

    @Jan

    Some very good thoughts!

    August 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
  3. jan

    I am not a catholic, just so you'll know up front I'm not speaking in defense of their religion here; and that does not mean I don't like them, just not one of them is all.
    I love and adore Mother Teresa and the good she did for others. Just sayin' when ya'll (me included) have done more than she did for others who were suffering, then we all can be a better judge of her. How's that? We better get busy.
    As far as the 'darkness'.......I believe she was saying she'd go even from heaven, to help people who live in darkness on earth. Good for her if she questioned her faith in the end......maybe her service brought her to a bigger picture we cannot see until we've done at least the same amount of service as she did; and that would change us too.
    Now there's a better world for all of us......one based solely on serving others.

    August 29, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  4. FYI

    One cannot deny the womans efforts to help people through out her lifetime. I have great admiration for that part. I am looking at the whole picture and based on some of these things I have read,( including her questioning her faith at the end), and wondering if she
    felt guity knowing the money went to the vatican or something, and did not use it for the poor and needy.
    Just because one does "works", does not always mean we can take that at face value.

    August 29, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  5. Jack

    I think Mother Theresa would have asked "how does this help the sick and the dieing?" It doesn't. She would have been disgusted by the wasted efforts. People who say they care about Mother Theresa should express that care by caring for a stranger in need.

    August 29, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  6. FYI

    I admired her work, I am just wondering why she turned on her own belief system.
    We are told to test the spirits.

    August 29, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  7. JSR

    I HEARD SHE HAD A BEARD! EWWW

    August 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  8. FYI

    The above link was wrong..so here are those last 3 lines as they should read:
    It is with hope that Mother Teresa’s impact on life remains embedded on the hearts of many all around the world and is anchored in the history of our days. On October 19th, 2003, without the mandatory five-year waiting period before the process of beatification takes place, Mother Teresa was the 1319th person beatified by Pope John Paul II after her death on September 5th, 1997. Even in the years after her death she has a role she wishes to fulfill. As she once proclaimed, “If I ever become a Saint- I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven- to light the light of those in darkness on Earth.”

    August 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  9. FYI

    @Mary Grant
    I couldn't agree more.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2090083
    Also, note the last three lines of what she states here
    It is with hope that Mother Teresa’s impact on life remains embedded on the hearts of many all around the world and is anchored in the history of our days. On October 19th, 2003, without the mandatory five-year waiting period before the process of beatification takes place, Mother Teresa was the 1319th person beatified by Pope John Paul II after her death on September 5th, 1997. Even in the years after her death she has a role she wishes to fulfill. As she once proclaimed, “If I ever become a Saint- I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven- to light the light of those in darkness on Earth.”
    What , to light the light of those in darkness on Earth? Hmm....she will be one of darkness and absent from Heaven? Sounds strait from the mouth of darkness itself.

    :

    August 28, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  10. FYI

    As mentioned above:
    For nine years Susan Shields worked as a devoted Catholic Sister, working for Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. When finally becoming fed-up in 1989, she left Mother Teresa in disgust over the misuse of millions in charitable donations that never got to their destination – the poor and afflicted.

    Shields story was recently sent to the Arctic Beacon, as printed in the
    Free Inquiry Magazine, revealing how Mother Teresa really turned a blind eye to the poor while millions of dollars in donations are still sitting
    in Vatican bank accounts.

    Wonder if this is why, in the end she was "questioning God and Heaven exisitng?
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1655415,00.html
    Angel of Light? We know Satan can appear as one.
    Notice how the Catholic gets offended by the facts? If one leaves the church, because they see the deciet and things NOT being the way the" true" church should function. one gets angry. Emphasis on "anti-catholic".
    Why would that be, except the catholic is so brainwashed and has to believe every lie the Catholic "fathers" has devised for them? Can they not READ for themselves, and get out of the cult?

    August 28, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
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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.