To be honest with you, I couldn’t get worked up about Bill Donohue’s campaign to persuade the owners of the Empire State Building to light up the tower on the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth.
Yes, it would be nice if the Empire State Building honored Mother Teresa. But if the owners continue to refuse? Outside of Manhattan—and New Yorkers sometimes need to be reminded that there is a world outside Manhattan—no one will know, one way or another. I’m sure Mother Teresa herself doesn’t care. When you’re living in the glow of divine light, the electric kind isn’t likely to produce much excitement.
But if I’m puzzled by Donohue’s insistence on this issue, I’m absolutely flummoxed by the effort by a group of radical-left Catholic organizations to persuade the Empire State Building management not to turn on the lights. Indifference to the issue is quite understandable; there are lots of other more pressing issues on the public agenda. But active opposition to the Catholic League’s campaign—from people who describe themselves as Catholics-- is truly astonishing. This bears investigation.
First let’s take a look at the list of groups that joined in condemning Donohue’s drive:
- Catholics for Choice
- Call to Action
- Chicago Women-Choice
- National Coalition of American Nuns
- New Ways Ministry
- Roman Catholic Womenpriests—USA
- Take Back Our Church
- Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual
- Women's Ordination Conference
This is no ordinary list of Catholic organizations. These are groups that have been officially denounced by the Catholic hierarchy, groups led by people who have incurred formal excommunication, groups dedicated to the promotion of causes that the Church condemns.
Now look at the text of the letter they wrote to the Empire State Building’s management. They aren’t actually arguing against turning on the lights for Mother Teresa; they’re arguing against turning on the lights for Bill Donohue. The groups condemn him as “an attack dog for the radical right, helping to promote its misogynist and homophobic agenda.”
Ah, now I understand. If Bill Donohue wins, these groups lose. And now for the first time, I feel myself getting excited about his light-up-the-Empire-State-Building campaign.