No Empire Tribute for Mother Teresa

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City's Empire State Building said
"yes" to Mariah Carey, dog shows, cancer charities - and even the
60th anniversary of communist China.

But the landmark skyscraper's owners have declined to illuminate
it in honor of the late Mother Teresa.

"They're bigots! They have an animus against Catholics!"
Catholic League President Bill Donohue told The Associated Press on
Tuesday.

He said his advocacy group requested that the building glow on
Aug. 26 for the centennial of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner's
birth. The request was denied in an unsigned, faxed letter, Donohue
said, "and they never gave an explanation."

He said Empire State Building officials were "stonewalling"
not only the Catholic League, but also the media and members of New
York's City Council.

Now, another prominent New York Catholic is voicing her outrage.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the AP that she spoke
Tuesday with Empire State Building owner Anthony Malkin.

Although the real estate mogul was "very professional" and
said he "would reflect on the points I made," she said, he didn't
give her a satisfactory answer.

She told the AP the answer should be "yes to Mother Teresa."

Telephone messages left for building spokeswoman Melanie Maasch
were not returned Tuesday. The telephone at Malkin Holdings,
Malkin's Manhattan-based company, rang unanswered late Tuesday
afternoon.

In New York, Mother Teresa helped open a pioneering hospice for
AIDS patients in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

"Her impact on the world was so much greater than one religious
group," Quinn said.

Although she's Catholic, the Democratic City Council speaker has
often disagreed with the religiously traditional League on issues
such as gay marriage. Quinn is openly gay.

But when it comes to the iconic skyscraper and the ethnic
Albanian nun who worked in India, she backs the League.

Illuminating the 102-story high-rise on Fifth Avenue in
different colors to mark an important date, cause or personality is
a New York tradition. The building is color-decorated for religious
holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah and other special
occasions.

"They offer a tribute to the communist Chinese, but say no to
Mother Teresa," said Donohue.

For Mother Teresa, the building would glow in blue and white in
the New York night - the colors of her Missionaries of Charity
order. Mother Teresa died in 1997, at 87, and was beatified by the
Roman Catholic Church - a step toward possible sainthood.

Requesting a lighting display involves filling out an
application evaluated by the Empire State Building Co., which is
privately owned and considers selection "a privilege, not an
entitlement," according to the website with the application form.
A decision is made "at the sole discretion of the (company's)
ownership and management."


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