McDonald’s Opening Near Vatican Creates Controversy

Last week a McDonald’s franchise opened its doors just a few blocks from St. Peter’s Square.

The fast-food restaurant, located in a building that is owned by the Vatican in the Borgo Pio district, prompted angry protests from some prelates who lived in the same building and were asked to help pay for the renovations that were needed to accommodate the restaurant.   Cardinal Sgreccia is quoted as saying a McDonald’s so close to the Vatican “is not at all respectful of the architectural and urban traditions” of Rome, calling the deal “a business decision that, moreover, ignores the culinary traditions of the Roman restaurant.”  Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life agrees and was a vocal critic ahead of the opening, calling it a “controversial, perverse decision to say the least.”

The McDonald’s site is operated by the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), the office that handles Vatican real-estate investments.  Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of APSA, said he saw no problem with the McDonald’s. He told Italian daily La Repubblica in October that everything was done “in respect of the law and that there will be nothing done which will go against the current rules, tradition and interests of the Holy See.”

The restaurant opening has been both welcomed and decried by Rome’s locals.  Some Romans have expressed joy on social media at the new restaurant, noting that the area around the Vatican is filled with overpriced restaurants catering to tourists, and suggesting the McDonald’s could actually be more discreet while others have worried about changes to the area’s cultural identity.  Dubbed by some as “McVatican,” the new restaurant is located in a Vatican property in Rome, at the intersection of the Borgo Pio and Via del Mascheriny, just a few minutes’ walk from St. Peter’s Basilica.