Controversial McDonald’s opens in Vatican City amid protests

VATICAN CITY (WSVN) — McDonald’s golden arches are now gracing Vatican City, drawing sharp criticism from many Catholics.

The fast-food restaurant opened “within eyeshot” of the Vatican last week, according to Fox News. Locals decried the decision to allow the chain restaurant a space to rent, in a building owned by the Vatican.

“It’s a controversial, perverse decision to say the least,” said Cardinal Elio Sgreccia in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica in October.

Sgreccia called the restaurant’s location “a disgrace,” saying it was “by no means respectful of the architectural traditions of one of the most characteristic squares which look onto the colonnade of Saint Peter’s.” He also lambasted the food itself, saying the burger-and-fries staple “ignores the culinary tradition of Roman cuisine.”

McDonald’s released a statement, saying, “McDonald’s Italy opened a new restaurant in a rented location near St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome on December 30th. The restaurant is not inside the Vatican, it is located in a popular tourist area outside the Vatican that already has many other restaurants, bars and retail shops. The new McDonald’s is in a building owned by APSA (the Vatican’s property entity). 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. As always, McDonald’s meets or exceeds all national and local laws and policies related to business operations in this location.”

McDonald’s is not the only franchise looking to expand to the Pope’s backyard. Vatican Radio recently reported that Hard Rock International is looking to open up a shop in a former religious bookstore, located on a main street leading to St. Peter’s Basilica.

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