Empire State Building refuses to light up in honor of Cardinal Timothy Dolan

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Today, the Empire State Building has refused to honor Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s recent promotion.

Dolan has served as the Archbishop of New York since 2009 and is the spiritual leader of the city’s 2.5 million Roman Catholics. Last week, on Feb. 18th, he was officially elevated to cardinal at a ceremony in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-NY), a Congressman who represents parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island, sent a letter to Anthony Malkin, who owns the Empire State Building, asking the iconic New York structure to honor Dolan by lighting up the tip of the tower with “Cardinal red” until Feb. 26.

“Cardinal Dolan is so much more to New Yorkers than just our archbishop. He is both an everyman and person marked by incredible warmth and generosity of spirit,” Grimm wrote. “His positive contributions to our lives make him a figure that all people of all backgrounds can celebrate. He deserves to have his elevation acknowledged by the city he calls home.”

The lights atop the skyscraper often change for special events, like on Feb 28th when they will turn green and blue in honor of the National Eating Disorders Association and National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

The Empire State Building Company responded Thursday with a resounding “No.”

“After careful consideration of your proposal, unfortunately, the decision has been made to deny your request,” the rejection letter read.

The Empire State Building has rejected many requests for religious remembrances, most notably for Mother Theresa’s 100th birthday in 2010.

“The Empire State Building celebrates many cultures and causes in the world community with iconic lightings,” Malkin said in a statement at the time, in response to the outcry.

He said the building traditionally lights up every year for the religious holidays of Easter, Eid al Fitr, Hanukkah, and Christmas, but he draws the line there.

“[The building] has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations,” wrote Malkin.

Grimm said he strongly disagrees with the decision.

“I am disappointed,” Grimm said. “I strongly encourage them to reconsider their position. His new role is something all New Yorkers can be proud of, which is why I couldn’t think of a better way to show our pride than by lighting the top of the Empire State Building ‘cardinal red.’”

Cardinal Dolan, no. Ninja Turtles, sure!

Malkin may take issue with lighting up the tower for religious figures, but he has no problem lighting up for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In 2009, the building was lit with green lights for the 25th anniversary of the cartoon terrapins.

The building also turned red and gold in 2009 in honor of the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Back in 1995, it was even lit up in bright blue for the rollout of blue M&Ms.

For more local news, follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyAEpstein.


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