The Church Still Has Standards

While Ross Douthat worries about changes in church teaching about marriage and divorce, the cardinals in Rome have not lost discernment when it comes to commerce and food. At issue is the opening of a McDonald’s close to St. Peter’s:

Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, a former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has publicly voiced his opposition to the move, telling the Italian daily La Repubblica it is “a controversial, perverse decision to say the least”. The Italian cardinal doesn’t live in the property, a former bank that borders Borgo Pio and Piazza Leonina, but spoke on behalf of the residents who wrote to the Pope. Cardinals Walter Kasper and George Pell also live in the block and Benedict XVI was resident there when he was a cardinal.

Opening a McDonald’s so close to the Vatican basilica is “not at all respectful of the architectural traditions of one of the most characteristic squares which look onto the colonnade of Saint Peter’s, visited everyday by thousands of pilgrims and tourists,” Cardinal Sgreccia said. He added that the “business decision” is a “disgrace” which “ignores the culinary traditions of the Roman restaurant”, is “not in line with the aesthetics of the place,” and would “inevitably penalize” other restaurateurs in the area.

He also criticized McDonald’s, saying its mix of burgers and French fries are “far from the traditions of Roman cuisine” and that “according to analyses and studies by not a few nutritionists and doctors, do not guarantee the health of consumers.”

Is that a vote for In-and-Out Burger?

Once upon a time, Vatican officials worried about Americanism as a form of government and freedom of religion. Not any more.

18 thoughts on “The Church Still Has Standards

  1. Having ate at both McDonalds and In-And-Out Burger, this isn’t even a vote for 5 Guys–which happens to have the best fast food burgers. I think it is a vote for Italian pizza places, especially those that also serve salads.


  2. “5 Guys–which happens to have the best fast food burgers. ”
    Is it snowing in Houston? I agree with Curt! 5Guys makes the best burger hands down. N&O is way overrated. My last two trips there resulted in stale buns and cold fries. Gross. At least McD’s is consistent.

    “far from the traditions of Roman cuisine”
    Like lead infused wine?


  3. b, sd, I’m a Phila. boy and I have never understood the appeal of 5 Guys. They’re over extended, their burgers are overpriced and their fries are like greasy cold strips of cardboard.



  4. Darryl, ding on 5 Guys. Makes me wary of the SoCal crowd and their raving over In-And-Out. WWLDS–What Would Larry David Say?


  5. I’ve always had hot burgers and fries at 5 Guys, but they’re definitely overrated. They’re at the higher end of fast food, but overpriced.


  6. D.G.,
    Worrying about grease is what some women choose to do–though it is unnecessary. What I like about 5 Guys burgers is that their burgers are thicker and thus have more flavor than the other fast food burgers. Plus, I can get grilled onions on a 5 guys burger. And if necessary, I can also eat one of their hot dogs. And I am speaking as one who grew up outside of Philly. But please note that the ranking for 5 guys is for the fast food league only including In-and-Out. I’ve eaten there several times and think that those who prefer their burgers are definitely a part of a cult.

    Don’t like canolis. Have to limit cheese intake. Pizza is ok as long as it has a baked bean topping. And when that isn’t available, I take pineapple and sausage.


  7. Zrim,

    Now that I think about it, I have had hot and soggy fries at 5 Guys. I guess that’s what you get when you dump ’em all in a bag.


  8. D.G.,
    I believe you need to preach that message to yourself. For it seems that I am far more tolerant of 5 guys than you are. As for canolis, they don’t like me so I tolerate their presence in the food court society.


  9. No McDonalds, and be very precise with cremation:

    The Instruction stresses that the ashes of the faithful “must be laid to rest in a sacred place” such as a cemetery or in a church, but not in a domestic residence except in “grave and exceptional cases dependent on cultural conditions of a localized nature.”

    They must also “not be divided among various family members”, and in order to avoid “every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism”, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes “in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects.”

    It added that if the deceased “notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law.”


  10. Global capitalism for the poor:

    Last week’s opening of a McDonald’s in a Vatican-owned property just around the corner from St. Peter’s Square 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. . . .

    After having received numerous requests from different companies to move into the vacant space, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which oversees the Vatican’s assets, chose to rent it to McDonald’s for 30,000 euros ($31,400) a month. The decision was announced in October 2016.

    But fast food is still beneath the curia:

    Others have worried about changes to the area’s cultural identity. Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, was a vocal critic ahead of the opening, calling it a “controversial, perverse decision to say the least.”

    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.


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