The NY Times reports that some of the Vatican hierarchy are annoyed (to put it mildly) that a McDonalds may open in a Vatican-owned building near the Holy See:
In an interview with La Repubblica in October, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia called the restaurant’s arrival a “disgrace,” and said the space should have been used to help the needy.
He said the addition of the restaurant clashed with the aesthetics of the area, and was “not at all respectful of the architectural and urban traditions of one of the most characteristic squares overlooking the colonnade of St. Peter.”
And then there is the matter of the food itself, which does “not offer guarantees for the health of the consumers, foods I would never eat,” added the cardinal, who retired as the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. “It’s a business decision that ignores the culinary tradition of Roman cuisine,” he said.
It would be beneath me to score points my suggesting that the Vatican has much more serious issues to worry about, so let's not talk about the rumors that Pope Francis and the Curia hierarchy are thinking about weakening the rules against priestly abuse of children.
Or to suggest that the Cardinal try a sausage egg McMuffin. They rock.
Suffice it to suggest that McDonalds surprisingly can be a communitarian-friendly place. Granted, it's not the classic mom-and-pop diner of TV lore, but Peggy Noonan's article on Chris Arnade's photos of "Back Row" America reminds us that:
Two great and underappreciated institutions play a deep role in holding it together.
The first is small churches, often Pentecostal and Evangelical. They’re in a dead strip mall or on a spur off a highway and they give everyone an embrace. “Any church that has a sign that says We Welcome Everybody, that’s where I go.” He looks for the ones “that are often literally on the edge of town.” One in Alabama was a former Kentucky Fried Chicken. “It’s clear they don’t have a lot of money. They tend to be more welcoming because they’re used to people walking in off the street.” Though a stranger he is often hugged. He has been invited to speak from the pulpit. “I am a bit of an outcast being a progressive who finds a lot of value in faith beyond just my faith, but faith in others. We progressives, we only seem to celebrate faith among poor blacks, not poor whites.”
The other institution that helps hold people together is McDonald’s. Mr. Arnade didn’t intend to discover virtue in a mighty corporation, but McDonald’s “has great value to community.” He sees an ethos of patience and respect. “McDonald’s is nonjudgmental.” If you have nowhere to go all day they’ll let you stay, nurse your coffee, read your paper. “The bulk of the franchises leave people alone. There’s a friendship that develops between the people who work there and the people who go.” “In Natchitoches, La., there’s a twice-weekly Bible study group,” that meets at McDonald’s. “They also have bingo games.” There’s the Old Man table, or the Romeo Club, for Retired Old Men Eating Out.
There's a crowd of Hispanic Romeos that meets for breakfast every morning at the one near my house. Looks like a fun group. I hope they're still there when I retire.