Retail

Vatican McDonald’s Cooks Up Controversy

A new McDonald’s site opened last Friday in the Pio Borgo district of Rome, and the Vatican isn’t exactly “lovin’ it,” as it were. That’s because the new McDonald’s location, just around the corner from St. Peter’s Square, sits about 100 yards away from the walls of the Vatican State and within a Vatican-owned building.

Opposition to the new location has reportedly been widespread since it was first announced back in October 2016. As a result, the opening was reportedly low-key. The new McDonald’s takes up 5,800 square feet and is open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Additionally, the restaurant, dubbed McVatican by some of its detractors, features complimentary Wi-Fi.

While McDonald’s has another location some 200 yards from the Vatican (and there’s also a Burger King), the controversy comes more from the fact that the newest addition to the burger chain resides directly within Vatican-owned property. The building also just happens to be home to Vatican officials, including several senior cardinals. McDonald’s reportedly pays the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See more than $30,000 a month for the building’s bottom floor.

Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has been quoted as saying in national newspaper La Repubblica that the new McDonald’s location was “aberrant” and “a perversion.” Said Sgreccia, “I repeat, selling mega-sandwiches in Borgo Pio is a disgrace.”

Additionally, Sgreccia was quoted as saying that the rent money could better be used to help “the area’s needy … and suffering, as the Holy Father teaches.”

No word on when the new McDonald’s location will receive the technological features and upgrades McDonald’s plans to roll out to all its stores worldwide by the end of 2018. McDonald’s is planning to add mobile ordering, in-store pick-up and delivery, self-service kiosk ordering, digital smart menu boards, custom-order options, and even table service to its over 35,000 locations.

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