New York's Empire State Building is lit up for a host of reasons -- national holidays, the release of "The Simpsons" movie -- but Mother Teresa's admirers are wondering why their request for honorary lights was refused.
For decades the iconic building has been bathed in different colors, honoring everything from red for the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, green for Saint Patrick's Day, and yellow for Homer Simpson and his family.
But officials have refused to offer the Mother Teresa's classic white and blue -- colors of her ubiquitous veil -- for the centenary of her birth on August 26.
"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, Hanukkah, and Christmas," noted Anthony E. Malkin of Malkin Holdings, manager of the 1931 art deco building.
"As a privately owned building, ESB has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations," he added, however, in a statement to AFP.
The Catholic League, supporters for the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner who was beatified six years after her death when late Pope John Paul II set her on a fast track to sainthood, are imploring Malkin to reverse the decision.
The building, they noted in a petition, shone to honor the Chinese Revolution, "yet under its founder, Mao Zedong, the Communists killed 77 million people. In other words, the greatest mass murderer in history merited the same tribute being denied to Mother Teresa," they said.
In a bid to tamp down the controversy, a handful of city council members presented a resolution Wednesday asking the building managers to reverse their decision.
"The reason we are doing this is Mother Teresa's international importance as a symbol of peace and hope and in recognition of her humanitarian works," said city council member Peter Vallone.
"We have no legal authority but we are just asking them to do this," he told AFP.
© AFP 2013