McDonald’s Causes Hoopla In The Vatican With Opening Of New Restaurant

Fast food chain giant McDonald’s is opening right next to the Vatican and not a lot of people are happy with this change. The announcement for a McDonald’s was revealed in October last year, and the lease was approved by the Vatican agency, Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APAS).

When it was first announced, cardinals were up in arms about the possibility of having a fast food joint in the neighborhood.

Apparently, the 5,800-square-foot space located right at the corner of Borgo Pio and Via del Mascherinio is nestled in the Vatican building that houses some of the cardinals. It was first reported that they would shoulder some of the cost, but that was denied by the APAS.

“The mega sandwich shop on Borgo Pio is a disgrace,” Cardinal Elio Sgreccia said. “It would be better to use those spaces to help the needy of the area, spaces for hospitality, shelter and help for those who suffer, as the Holy Father teaches.”

When the McDonald’s news was first announced, Sgreccia had said that the Vatican agency seems to be ignoring the “culinary traditions of the Roman restaurant industry.”

However, APAS head Cardinal Domenix Calcagana, doesn’t understand what all the hoopla was about when the Vatican agency approved the lease for McDonald’s.

“I don’t see the scandal,” Calcagana said.

Newsweek noted that the cardinal’s position on allowing McDonald’s to operate near the historic district is a sound idea considering that commerce has been knocking on the door of Vatican City for a long time now.

For instance, Hard Rock Café will also be opening right on the avenue leading to St. Peter’s Square. That’s even more sacrilegious considering that the restaurant is going to supplant a religious store.

The Vatican City will also be receiving about 30,000 euros monthly as payment for rent.

FEBRUARY 26: Rain clouds gather near St Peter's Basilica

The Guardian noted that the cardinals’ plea for Vatican to cancel the lease to McDonald’s may probably fall on deaf ears, especially since Pope Francis has frowned upon the way the clergy has embraced luxury instead of pursuing a very simple life.

According to the report, the apartments around Vatican City has been leased to retired cardinals and other high officials of the church for a measly €7 to €10 per square meter, when the average rent goes around €25-30 per square meter. While they are still in the service of the church, they only pay for the utilities.

A spokesperson for the company, meanwhile, is trying to ease the tension by saying that they are respectful of the history of the district.

“The restaurant is not inside the Vatican,” the McDonald’s official wrote. “It is located in a popular tourist area outside the Vatican that already has many other restaurants, bars, and retail shops. As is the case whenever McDonald’s operates near historic sites anywhere in Italy, this restaurant has been fully adapted with respect to the historical environment.”

McDonald’s serves breakfast starting at 6:30 a.m. and will be open until 11:00 p.m. The outlet will also host birthday parties and other gatherings. What may have goaded the cardinals’ ire is that this establishment will be open on Sundays, considered by Vatican as the holiest day of the week.

This resentment towards opening McDonald’s just a stone’s throw away from the Vatican is understandable considering its history, as well as culture that values order, customs, routine, and tradition.

Vatican City as a state was promulgated in 1929, but its standing as the seat of the Roman Catholic Church dates back to 4th Century A.D. when St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed on the orders of Emperor Constantine who had just converted to Christianity.

[Featured Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]