Updated 08/26/2010 10:50 PM
City Celebrates Mother Teresa's 100th Birthday; Group Urges ESB To "Turn On The Lights"
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As the city marked Mother Teresa's 100th birthday Thursday, protestors came out in full force to blast the Empire State Building's decision to not honor the late Nobel Prize-winning nun.
The rally was organized after the skyscraper's owners refused a request by the Catholic League to light the building blue and white, the colors of Mother Teresa's garb.
The owners say lighting the building for Mother Teresa would violate a policy against honoring individual religious figures.
"They've done it in the past for religious figures. They did it for the Salesian Sisters last year, they've done it for Pope John Paul II, they've done it for Cardinal O'Connor. That's a lie," said Catholic League Communications Director Jeff Field.
While peaceful, the large gathering on 34th Street, at times, pitted neighbor respectfully against neighbor.
"The world be a much better place if there were more Mother Teresas," said one supporter.
"People assume she is synonymous with the greatest human that ever lived. Billions of dollars she raised is unaccounted for -- she took money from many awful regimes in Central America," said one opponent.
In response to the building's refusal, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn declared Thursday a citywide day of service and called on New Yorkers to light their own blue and white candles.
The Hutchinson Metro Center in the Bronx was expected to be lit up in blue and white Thursday night.
Brooklyn Borough Hall was lit blue and white Wednesday night to honor Mother Teresa and will remain lit through the weekend.
Earlier in the day, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan held a Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
The archbishop was joined by the sisters from the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Nobel Prize-winning nun in 1950.
Meanwhile, in India, a year of events honoring Mother Teresa is now underway.
Hundreds of nuns, bishops and volunteers attended a Mass in Kolkata, India for special prayer services.
Schoolchildren and tourists were among those who crowded Mother Teresa's grave, and some placed flowers and lighting candles.
Special feasts to feed the poor, a festival of films documenting her life and work and the launch of a new train called the "Mother Express" are all among the events planned.
India's government also plans to release a coin in her honor.
Mother Teresa died in 1997.