Dolan’s blog a forum on Bill Donohue and the Catholic League

Last week, Archbishop Dolan used his blog to offer a defense of the often-controversial Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

He was defending Donohue’s criticisms of an art exhibit in Washington.

Dolan wrote, in part: “Bill Donohue hardly needs me to defend him.  He’s well-able to do it himself, and has a lot of experience doing so.  But, he’s stood up for a lot of us before, and I am glad to express my encouragement for the work he does.  Some may take occasional issue with his style.  Fair enough, and he’s open to such criticism. Some might even discuss whether the image is offensive.  However, no one should doubt the high value and necessity of his efforts, or dismiss him in crude terms.  Even the recent high-volume critiques of his stand on this controversy exhibit nasty anti-catholic canards.  Keep at it, Bill!  We need you!”

In the past, when I’ve quoted Donohue or someone else with the CL, I’ve heard it from Donohue’s critics — including more than few priests — who don’t like his tactics. I remember one priest writing me a letter saying that I quoted Donohue in order to make Catholics look stupid!

So when I checked Dolan’s blog this morning, I enjoyed reading the many spirited comments, from people who agree with Dolan and those who don’t.

There are “way to go Tim” comments like:

“As a long time member of The Catholic League I consider this article as one of your finest moments so far Your Excellency. These so called “artists,” or most media outlets would not dare do this to Muhammad, Martin Luther King, or joke about the Holocaust.”

And..

“Kudos to Dr. Donohue! But his work is greatly leveraged when strong bishops support it. Double kudos to Your Excellency!”

And…

“We need the Catholic League now more than ever and boy do we ever need leaders like Archbishop Dolan and Dr. Donahue…..The Holy Bible teaches us that the Gospel does not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of boldness and there are times when it is simply inappropriate to “turn the other cheek”….Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the temple for a very good reason, which could well be likened to the disrespect shown His Temple in the present age…..”

But on the other side, we have:

“Under Mr. Donohue’s leadership, the Catholic League has become one of the most divisive organizations in the United States in general and the Catholic Church in the United States in particular. Mr. Donohue’s combative tone is not representative of Christ’s teachings and not a good example of Catholic values, and his affiliation with polarizing personalities like Glenn Beck is damaging to our church’s public image.”

And…

“This is wrong, wrong. I understand that we live in an overly secular culture which disrespects faith and especially Catholicism. But Donohue is a terrible voice for the Church.”

And…

“Like many other Catholics, I am very upset by your recent apologia (in your blog) for the Catholic League, and Mr. Donohue, who is behind it. I know that there are many who are trying to make a good thing for themselves out of the unfortunate polarization that disfigures our Church (to say nothing of the secular analog that disfigures our nation).”

You know who must be loving this?

Bill Donohue.

Just put the lights on, for Mother Teresa’s sake

I don’t know much about Anthony Malkin other than that he must be a very rich man.

He is the president of a company started by his grandfather that owns about 10 million square feet of commercial property in the New York area.

Including the Empire State Building.

You may have heard during the last 24 hours that the Catholic League would like to see the Empire State Building lights turn blue and white on Aug. 26 to mark the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth.

The Empire State Building denied the request and the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue blew another casket. He’s planning a demonstration outside the ESB on Aug. 26 instead.

“Malkin has made his decision to stiff Catholics,” Donohue says.

In a statement, Malkin says: “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.

He adds that the privately owned building “has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations.”

The thing is, the ESB lit up in honor of Cardinal O’Connor when he died in 2000 and in honor of Pope John Paul II when he died in 2005.

So the building’s ownership has a history of honoring religious figures and of not stiffing Catholics.

The picture shows the building lit up in 1995 to mark the 80th birthday of Frank Sinatra (who, by most accounts, was not as nice a person as Mother Teresa).

In a brief Q&A with the NYT in September, Malkin suggested that lighting decisions are informal and not taken all that seriously. Here’s the key part:

*****

Q. One thing about the Empire State Building that isn’t changing is the night lighting that makes the building a distinctive part of the city’s skyline. Who decides the tower light colors?

A. Our brand manager. We get hundreds of requests a year.

We try to use the lighting to celebrate everybody who thinks highly of the building. We do important Western holidays, we have fun with the Mets versus the Yankees or the Jets versus the Giants. We also are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. And we use light to celebrate Id al-Fitr, the festivities at the end of the Ramadan fast.

Q. And the newest celebration?

A. The 40th anniversary and the grand reopening of El Museo del Barrio. It’s going to be on Oct. 14. All yellow.

*****

The People’s Republic of China? The reopening of the El Museo del Barrio?

So why not light up for Mother Teresa?

Make everyone happy and end the controversy. It makes sense. It’s good business. Who would disagree (other than Christopher Hitchens)?

Your grandfather would probably be proud, Mr. Malkin.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)