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Many Irish Catholics receive the markings of Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, on their foreheads Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Hotel boss fired for berating Irish Catholic employee on Ash Wednesday

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Many Irish Catholics receive the markings of Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, on their foreheads Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

A luxury hotel manager has been fired for telling an Irish Catholic employee to "wipe that ******* **** off your face" on Ash Wednesday. 

Bell captain Mike Murray had attended mass in Long Island on Ash Wednesday before reporting for work at the New York Palace Hotel.
 

"My priest did a real number on me," Murray said, referring to the ashes which Catholics receive at the beginning of Lent. 

The offensive comment cost managaing director Niklaus Leuenberger his job at the ritzy Manhattan hotel which, ironically, leases its land from the Catholic Church.

Teresa Delaney, the hotel’s spokeswoman, said, "As of Monday, March 23, Leuenberger is no longer employed by the New York Palace.”
 
Leuenberger was named managing director of the New York Palace in May 2007 after many years at New York’s luxury Peninsula Hotel. 
 
When reached at his N.J. home, Leuenberger declined to comment. 
 
Luckily for the ex-manager, Murray reportedly does not plan to file a lawsuit. “I've been working here for 25 years and I wouldn't want to endanger that,” he said. 
 
This isn’t the first time a Catholic has faced discrimination on Ash Wednesday. 
 
In one infamous incident, former CNN CEO Ted Turner met several "ashed" employees at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters and said, "What are you, a bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought to be working for Fox." 
 
In another case in California, a nursing home employee was told by her boss to wipe off her ashes on Ash Wednesday. When she refused, her employer took a rag and wiped the ashes off for her. 
 
The Catholic League,  which is currently calling for Notre Dame to rescind its commencement invite to President Barack Obama,  followed up on the incident and the employer was fired.
 
 “We condemn all examples of this bigotry,” said Catholic League President William Donohue . Donohue commended the New York Palace hotel for taking the incident seriously, and calls the firing of Leuenberger a “just remedy.” 
 
“No question – this shouldn’t be tolerated against any religion. Who’s rights are being violated? We’re not talking about some situation like the military or the police force, where arguably there needs to be strict guidelines for decorum . These are rational decisions. But no one’s rights are being violated because someone has ashes on his forehead one day a year,” he said.

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