The following is a letter from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League regarding a protest outside of the Empire State Building on August 26, the 100th birthday of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Owner Anthony Malkin is a craven and cowardly revisionist who refuses to honor the woman who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Medal of Freedom–the two highest civilian honors bestowed by the United States. Come dressed in blue and white, the colors of Mother’s order.
As president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, I have witnessed many assaults on Catholic sensibilities. But of all the indignities that Catholics have had to endure – movies, plays, songs, artistic exhibitions, books, articles, newspaper cartoons, classroom diatribes, television shows, lawsuits, obscene street fairs, music videos, and the like – nothing has insulted Catholics more than to see Mother Teresa dissed by the owner of the Empire State Building; a request to honor her on the 100th anniversary of her birthday, August 26, was denied without explanation!
The Empire State Building frequently beams into the sky the colors associated with all kinds of persons, organizations and events. From Mariah Carey to the Simpsons, and from NASCAR drivers to the Ninja Turtles, tribute is offered by way of the tower’s lights on a regular basis. But not for Mother Teresa – she doesn’t qualify.
Indeed, the Empire State Building’s owner, Anthony Malkin, honored the genocidal regime of Communist China, even though 77 million innocent men, women and children were murdered under Mao Zedong. So you can see why I was stunned when I learned that my request to honor Mother Teresa was denied; I asked that the tower lights shine blue and white, the colors of the Missionaries of Charity, on her birthday. By contrast, the U.S. Postal Service is honoring her with a commemorative stamp.
When I made my request in writing on February 2, I was told by two women from the Empire State Building that my application looked fine; they said they would get back to me in a few months. Then on May 5, I was faxed an unsigned letter denying my request. I quickly contacted Malkin, but he never replied to my letter. In fact, he has steadfastly refused to speak to the media.
After being pummeled with bad publicity, Malkin said they have a policy barring an honor to any religious person or group. But that is a lie. In the past, they have honored John Cardinal O’Connor, Pope John Paul II, the Salvation Army, the Salesian Sisters and Rev. Martin Luther King. And they further lied when they said this “policy” – which was just made up out of thin air – was in place when I applied. I have a copy of the application and it says no such thing. Moreover, no one ever indicated there was any problem with my application. It looked like a slam dunk.
On August 26, there will be a demonstration in the street outside the Empire State Building. There are many costs associated with this event, ranging from ads in newspapers, mailings, renting a stage, etc. In addition to your prayers, we need both your participation at the rally and your contributions.
Mother Teresa deserves better. Just as important, Catholics do not deserve to be treated like second-class citizens by snobby elites who think they can stick their middle finger in our faces. The time to support Mother Teresa is now.
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
450 Seventh Avenue
New York, New York 10123