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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 2, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 09
Cardinal Dolan tries to paint the town red but fails
Section One
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Cardinal Dolan tries to paint the town red but fails

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Timothy Dolan, Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, was denied the honor of having the Empire State Building lit red to commemorate his elevation to the rank of cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.

Dolan had to settle for lights on the as-yet-unfinished One World Trade Center 'Freedom Tower' - the replacement for the World Trade Center destroyed on 9/11.

The pope raised Dolan to the elite rank of the Catholic hierarchy on February 18.

In the highly formalized world of Catholic couture, archbishops wear violet accoutrements and cardinals red. New York Congressman Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) had asked the Empire State Building to light its tower red in Dolan's honor.

Building owner Anthony Malkin turned him down.

Reportedly one of the pope's favorite archbishops, Dolan has been a controversial figure in New York. A bitter opponent of New York's new marriage equality law, Dolan said at one point that Roman Catholics should refuse to obey laws that go against the church's teaching.

Dolan has also been accused of trying to hide $130 million in church assets to avoid paying out legal settlements in the church's ongoing child abuse scandal.

While Malkin would not comment on his reasons for turning down Cardinal Dolan, he touched off a similar controversy in 2010 when he refused to light the tower blue and white to honor Mother Teresa. At that time he said he had a policy against 'lighting for religious figures.'

In the past, Malkin has allowed the Empire State Building to be lit in rainbow colors for Pride.

His decision not to honor Dolan did not go over well with New York Catholics.

'It's an insult to Catholics and to the vast majority of New Yorkers who love Cardinal Dolan,' said Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League.

New York's Port Authority - a public agency - then intervened on Dolan's behalf. Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye, like Dolan an Irish Catholic, said his agency would light up One World Trade Center instead.

The building will be lit red from February 24 through March 2.

'Cardinal Dolan has captured the hearts of all New Yorkers with his quick wit, street smarts, and compassion for those of all religious faiths,' Foye said.

Rep. Grimm said he was satisfied with the alternative honor.

'Where there is a will there is a way, and One WTC is even more appropriate as a symbol of hope, courage, and the bright future of New York, all of which Cardinal Dolan exemplifies,' Grimm said.

The Empire State Building was not the only New York institution to snub Dolan. The New York State American-Irish Legislators Society declined to make him guest of honor at their upcoming March 12 banquet. Instead, the group will honor labor lawyer Brian O'Dwyer.

According to the New York Daily News, some Democratic members objected to honoring Dolan because of the church's vehement opposition both to same-sex marriage and to a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for past victims of sex abuse by priests.

'It was clear there were certain members of the majority who would be unhappy and uncomfortable if the honoree was the cardinal,' an unnamed source told the Daily News.

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