Let’s Leave It to Mother Teresa
These remarks were made on August 27 in New York City at the rally sponsored by the Catholic League to protest the decision of Mr. Anthony Malkin, owner of the Empire State Building, not to turn on blue and white lights to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, presided at the event held on 39th St. in front of the Empire State Building.
About 3000 demonstrators were present. It has been said Mother Teresa belongs to the world. Well, New York City belongs to the world as well, and the world can’t understand why New York would treat Mother this way. New Yorkers have the reputation of being tough and talking tough, but those who know this city know that underneath that toughness lies a large and generous heart. That’s why so many are asking how New York could allow this insult to the memory of Mother Teresa. They are asking, “Where is the heart for the woman and her sisters who have given this city so much and asked for nothing in return?” Where is it?
In her lifetime, and for years afterward, Mother Teresa polled as the most admired person in the United States. Her name is still synonymous with charity and self-giving. Mother Teresa came to New York and built her first AIDS home here over thirty years ago. There she nursed HIV-AIDS victims when no one else wanted them. She and her sisters cared for them, touched them, and stood by them when they died. Many New Yorkers, many of you here today, worked side-by-side with Mother and her sisters, the Missionaries of Charity.
The late John Cardinal O’Connor, it should be remembered today, was one of Mother’s biggest supporters. Mother Teresa did all this for free, without asking for a single cent from New York City. And now Mr. Malkin has dissed Mother Teresa and New York has a black eye. Those of you who have worked with the Missionaries of Charity saw your lives change, change for the good — like my friend Jim Towey, who served President George W. Bush, and went to India “out of curiosity.” When Mother Teresa met him, she handed him a bucket and told him to start cleaning beds. Jim Towey, as a result, was never the same. (You didn’t go to see Mother Teresa out of mere curiosity!) This protest is not just about the anti-Catholic bigotry that Bill Donohue and the Catholic League fight so bravely and effectively year after year. This rally is about the lack of basic human gratitude from the city of New York and, particularly, from those who control the city’s best known landmark, the Empire State Building.
Many of you and Bill Donohue have been wondering why Mr. Malkin would do something like this. You have lain awake at night — well, maybe not Bill, nothing ruins his sleep! — pondering how Mr. Malkin could refuse the simple honoring of Mother Teresa by turning on the lights of the Empire State Building on her 100th birthday. Well, there is one person here who knows why he did it. She dealt with people like this her whole life, people who refused to care for the unborn, the homeless, the suffering, and the dying. Mother Teresa knew the fear that was in their hearts.
Let’s leave it to Mother Teresa to deal with Mr. Malkin. Thank you.