It is almost amusing to read that Catholic League prez Bill Donohue doesn't care that the speaker of New York's City Council, Christine Quinn, is a lesbian who vigorously supports same-sex marriage. He announced on the steps of City Hall that she is "a very good Catholic," The Daily News's Frank Lombardi reports. So what if the city government's most powerful Democratic elected official boycotts the St. Patrick's Day Parade because the organizers won't permit a gay and lesbian group to march under its own banner? So what if she is allied with the city's major abortion-rights organizations?All that Quinn had to do to get Donohue's approval was to support his crusade for the owner of the Empire State Building to light up the spire in honor of Mother Teresa when her centenary arrives on Aug. 26. But it didn't work. The AP reported that the owner refused and finally explained his reasoning after weeks of silence:
"The Empire State Building celebrates many cultures and causes in the world community with iconic lightings, and has a tradition of lightings for the religious holidays of Easter, Eid al Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan), Hanukkah, and Christmas," owner Anthony E. Malkin said in a statement Wednesday.
But the real estate mogul said the privately owned building "has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations."
Donohue retorts that the Empire State Building has honored Cardinal John O'Connor and Pope John Paul II. (And it also lights up to honor the parade that Council Speaker Quinn boycotts.)Call the decision not to honor Mother Teresa inconsistent and foolish. But does it make the skyscraper's owner a "bigot," as Donohue charges?The controversy might be a little funny if it weren't for the threatening tone of the Catholic League's statement, which concludes that Malkin's decision "is something he will regret for the rest of his life."Mother Teresa, pray for us.
Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).