Protesters: ‘Turn On The Lights’ For Mother Teresa

NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS/WCBS 880) — On a day that would have been the 100th birthday of Mother Teresa, New Yorkers both remembered her life and voiced their displeasure for the Empire State Building’s decision to refuse a request to honor her with a lighting display.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ John Montone reports
LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports on protest

The Empire State building denied the request to light up the tower with blue and white in honor of the nun’s blue and white habit and sari.

Owner Anthony Malkin said the Nobel Peace Prize winner wasn’t honored because she is a religious figure, CBS 2’s Lou Young reports.

But some find the reasoning incomprehensible and on Thursday night protested along 34th Street to voice their unhappiness by chanting “turn on the lights.”

“I just thought it was sort of petty and mean spirited that someone as good as Mother Teresa, they couldn’t turn the lights on for…when they do it for so many other people,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.

“Show a little respect to people like Mother Teresa, who went out of her way,” another woman said.

“Really…it’s not a big deal to light the lights…it’s her 100th birthday,” said another protester.

At Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Thursday, Archbishop Dolan presided over a mass in honor of Mother Teresa.

“It’s tough to be against Mother Teresa,” Dolan said.

CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported that hundreds of worshipers were in the pews, including a dozen nuns from the Sisters of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa in 1950 in Calcutta, India.

Courtney Teitler said Mother Teresa was “someone who embodied everything everyone should strive to be.”

And Maria Colon echoed those sentiments, saying “No matter how much you have, how many material things, it’s what you do for mankind.”

But at the protests Thursday night, Catholic League President Bill Donahue continued to express his continuing frustrations with the ownership of the Empire State Building.

“If we Catholics took this like a piñata, a doormat, then the cultural elites will say we can do what we like to Catholics,” Donahue said. “This goes beyond Mother Teresa at this point.”

“We were outraged,” protester Fran DiBlasio said. “And it’s not a Catholic thing although we’re Catholic.  She was universal.”

But it wasn’t all confrontation across the city, as Times Square was illuminated in blue and white lights as an answer to the protest, and in Astoria an interfaith gathering presided over by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clerics honored the Catholic nun.

“You know what? We took adversity, as Mother Teresa would, and made something positive out of it,” NYC Councilman Peter Vallone of Queens said.

Still, Archbishop Dolan said that Mother Teresa might be overwhelmed and unhappy with some of the attention surround the lighting controversy.

“She was humility personified. She didn’t like a lot of attention. She ran from it. She shied away from it,” Dolan said.

The Empire State Building is seen from 5th Avenue - New York, NY - Oct 10, 2009 - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880
The Empire State Building is seen from 5th Avenue – New York, NY – Oct 10, 2009 – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

While the Empire State Building has gone green for Saint Patrick’s Day, red for the 60th anniversary of the Chinese cultural revolution and even pink for the release of a Mariah Carey album – it didn’t turn blue and white in honor of Mother Teresa Thursday.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said he’s not afraid to come out in support of Mother Teresa. In Brooklyn, he said, they’ll get it right.

“She described herself as a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world,” he said. “So tonight…we honor her by writing a love letter in lights.”

For the next six nights, Brooklyn Borough Hall will be illuminated in blue and white — the colors of Mother Teresa’s habit and sari — to pay tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who spent many years ministering to orphans and the poor in India.

Upcoming Light Schedule For The Empire State Building:
08/26/2010 Red/White/Blue Women’s Equality Day, 90th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment
08/27/2010 – 08/29/2010 White/White/White ESB Lighting
08/30/2010 Yellow/Yellow/Yellow United States Tennis Association, U.S. Open Opening Day
08/31/2010 – 09/01/2010 White/White/White ESB Lighting
09/02/2010 Yellow/Yellow/Yellow New York City Office of Emergency Management, National Preparedness Month
09/03/2010 – 09/06/2010 Red/White/Blue Labor Day
09/07/2010 – 09/09/2010 White/White/White ESB Lighting

  • Lord Marc

    Im curious? What did Mayor Bloomberg say about this? Didn’t he give the same first Amendment speech he gave for allowing the Victory Mosque to be built near Ground Zero. I guess he was to busy golfing with the President during his much needed 15th vacation.

  • Mary Grant

    Things are gettier healthier when someone can tell the Catholic Church NO.

    At least a lawsuit shedded light (lit up) Mother Theresa’s close spiritual adviser, one of the Catholic church’s’ most notorious convicted pedophile priests. Is Donahue grateful for that?

    I hope there’s was an outhouse onsite for Donahue and not a clergy abuse victim nearby.

  • Rodin

    @ Aida

    What you are is passive-aggresive, the hallmark of the faithful. Like your gods, you’re too irrelevant for me to hate but I do find you extremely disagreeable and nauseating.

    What’s worseis, I think we know each other.

    “Nail up some indecency in plain sight over your door; from that time forward you will be rid of all respectable people,the most insupportable folk God has created.”

  • Aida

    Yikes,Theresa, or Teresa … Why don’t you reflect on your questions prayerfully–unless you’re an atheist, which I think you are–and you find the answers. Hey, if you do, we might be blessed with another Mother Teresa–you!

    God bless, my friend, as no one is my enemy.

  • Rodin

    End of story. Get back to work.


  • Rodin

    @ Aida

    Why does your ever loving god allow us, created in his image and likeness, “to cause [suffering] by our selfishness in making life all about us?”

  • truth

    Aida you made the greatest point on this article! take greed and selfishness away from human being and the world will be turned into paradise period.

  • Aida

    Mother Teresa was not an atheist. She underwent the dark night of the soul, something that many saints have gone through. This state of spiritual dryness, by the way, is something that many spiritual people go through, not just saints.

    As for why God allows suffering? He doesn’t. We cause it by our selfishness in making life all about us. Christ said that we’d always have the poor among us. We don’t need one Mother Teresa. We need thousands to make a difference. Are you doing your part?

  • pk

    its less dangerous ?

  • JFK

    Just Pray. She just may soon become a Saint

  • Rodin

    @ Gary Grella

    You worship false gods.

  • Gary Grella

    Mark Silvers : You said “Good Decision. (against honoring Mother Theresa) We can’t honor everyobdy and by honoring one religious figure we’ll have to do them all.” “we’ll” have to honor them all? Who’s ‘we’ ? And, what’s wrong with honoring religious figures of the capacity of Mother Theresa. Tell me Mark, what’s so wrong with this?

  • Rodin

    @ Jtorres
    August 26, 2010 pm31 1:02 pm
    “Check your facts.”

    I always do. Christopher Hitchens’ interviewwith Mopther Teresa is on the record, well known or not. That has no bearing on its validity.

    If you are implying that Hitchens, because of his religious views, which are obviously contrary to yours, is somehow dishonest in his reporting, is bias on your part.

    Christopher Hitchens, whatever his views, is a reputable journalist, philosopher and social critic, not Glenn Beck.

  • Gloria Schramm

    Lights on or off, Mother Teresa is a luminary,

  • Michael Zocchi

    ** Mother Theresa was a very holy and great woman. We can all learn from her with all the hate in this world. EVERYONE SHOW YOUR BLUE TONIGHT!!!!!!!!

  • Rodin

    Kudos to Anthony Malkin!


  • Rodin

    “It’s tough be against Mother Teresa,” said Archbishop Dolan.

    Then, for the Archbishop, it’s also tough to be against priestly pedophile perps.

  • Binky

    It’s a well known fact that the Mother Teresa was an atheist in the latter half of her life. She sent many letters to her superiors questioning God’s existence.
    She came to her senses an realized that this God she was brought up to believe in would never let so many innocent people suffer.
    She still kept doing good until her death regardless. An amazing human indeed.

  • TTC

    Isn’t this an old story? There is nothing new here.

  • Luxis Ferre

    Mother Teresa took poor Bengali children, converted them to Catholicism, helped them live long enough to survive childhood diseases, and then turned them out into the streets of Calcutta. Now these people have lost their culture, are rejected by the community at large, have no education or skills, and they steal everything not locked up in the city.
    Take one trip to Calcutta and talk to people there. Not everyone thinks Mother Teresa is a saint.

  • Rodin

    Honor the great Vatican propagandist?

    In her own ords:
    “I’m not a social worker. I don’t do it for this reason. I do it for the church.”
    ~ MOOMMA TREESSA, Witch of Calcutta


    Religion is godly hate.
    Hate is a faith based initiative.

    • Jtorres

      “In her own words”? Check your facts. This quote was attributed to her by Christopher Hitchens a frequent critic of hers and of her work. And he said this after she died. And maybe she did question the existence of God and her faith. But I challenge anyone from any religion, even the most pious, to claim they’ve never experienced doubt from time to time

    • Jtorres

      “In her own words”? Check yoiur facts. That statement was attributed to her by Christopher Hitchens, a frequnt critic of hers and of her work. Appparently, no one else heard it. And maybe she did question her faith and the existence of God but I challenge anyone from any religion ,who is even the most pious to not exepierence doubt from time to time.

  • Mark Silvers

    Good Decision. We can’t honor everyobdy and by honoring one religious figure we’ll have to do them all.

    • Jtorres

      Yes, Mother Teresa was a Catholic nun But she so much more than that. She was the liing embodiment of peace and humility. She lived a life of service and sacrifice helping those most in need. She reached out to those the rest of the world turned their backs on. That’s why she won the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not just “a relligious figure” She was an icon known worldwide. That’s why she deserves this honor. That’s what the owner of the Empire State Building and youMark. seem to fail to see

  • Who am I?

    We own 99% of all commercial real estate in this city. The legal, medical, banking, and insurance industries are all controlled by us. Education, well, we have both the city public schools and the colleges and universities sewn up as well. The Daily News, The New York Times, you guessed it; that’s our racket too. Whether you need a lawyer, a loan, or even a new liver, chances are you will look to us. Ask yourself why would we ever agree to honor someone like Mother Theresa?

    • Stephen

      you forget about lobbying to use our tax money for Israel….lol

  • Bonnie

    This protest is exactly what Mother Theresa Would NOT have wanted. Do something POSITIVE to honor her! Give your time and expense to the poor or the charity of your choice. Shame on the organizers.

  • Jimmy

    Maybe they would get more sympathy for their plight with the Penn office tower if they were more sympathetic.

  • Regina

    Mother Theresa……Nobel Peace Prize Winner/Caring for Aids Patients, children of the world, the sick.

    Mariah Carey……..Fluffy entertainer.

    Yeah I see why they would honor Carey over Mother Theresa!!!!

    No more trips to the Empire State Building for me or my family.

  • Tom

    Maybe they could do something for her down by ground zero or is that area reserved strickly for muslims?

  • Rosemary

    Mother Teresa is a role model for people of all races and religions. Thank you Marty Markowitz. You make me proud to be a Brooklynite.

  • Luciano

    Mother Teresa does not need any honor. The highest honor was given to her by God in Heaven. Jesus said “Whatever you do to the least of your brethren you do it to me.” The only thing one should do is to follow Mother Teresa’s footsteps and help the poo persons and neglected persons of our society. Who knows, perhaps one of them is next to you!!!

  • Tim

    Stephen, you are an idiot. Your sentence construction is terrible. You have a poor grasp on the proper use of grammar and punctuation. Your claims aren’t supported by any proof. There is a bizarre lack of logic leading to the final concluding sentence. Please think twice (or at least once) before ever posting anything again.

    • Stephen

      So you’re saying that there’s no hatred? Seriously? I think you should think twice before posting. Dufus

    • Against rhetorical questions

      Actually, his sentences have a certain poetic prose.
      Read more.

  • Old Man

    Sounds to me like the ESB has their priorities confused! I believe Mother Teresa should be honored! But for YOU Stephen… is a FREE country! You do have the FREEDOM to leave for a BETTER SOCIETY! Now just WHERE would that be!!??

    • Stephen

      Hey Old man, FREEDOM?? You’re watching to much of FOX news.

    • Against rhetorical questions

      Pretty much most other places.

  • WynnBrooklyn

    This is not about religion. I’m Buddhist. But I admire Mother Teresa’s dedication and noble work.

  • Stephen

    Jews (Anthony Malkin) hating on Catholics. Jews and Catholics hating on Muslims (Park 51 Mosque). Whites hating on Blacks. Straight hating on Gays. Legals hating on Illegals.

    Great country we live in. Its full of hatred. I can’t blame why the world hates the United States..

    • hala

      you got that right. why every body hates on every body . we r all in deep shiiii…together with that economy .

    • TTC

      its not even that complicated, its b/c we support israel.

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