The historic arches of St. Peter's Basilica have a new neighbor: McDonald's golden arches.

The fast-food chain on Friday opened a restaurant around the corner from St. Peter's Square, on the ground floor of a Vatican-owned building.

According to McDonald's Italy website, the new location offers WiFi, accommodates birthday parties and serves the "Sweety," a burger bun filled with Nutella.

But not all are rushing to get their fill of Big Macs and McChicken sandwiches. A number of Roman Catholic leaders and local residents have spoken out publicly against the Vatican's decision to do business with McDonald's.

Advertisement

"It's a controversial, perverse decision to say the least," Cardinal Elio Sgreccia was quoted as saying to La Repubblica.

"Instead of a Golden Arches near the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, the space should be used to house entities which help the needy, in line with the pope's call for a 'poor church for the poor.'"

The fast-food chain is renting the 1,765-square-foot space from the Vatican for about $31,000 a month, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

A number of cardinals live in the apartment building where the restaurant is located.

Although the majority of McDonald's 36,000 locations - about 85 percent - are franchises, the new restaurant near the Vatican is company-owned, according to a spokeswoman.

"The restaurant is not inside the Vatican," a McDonald's spokeswoman said in an email."It is located in a popular tourist area outside the Vatican that already has many other restaurants, bars and retail shops. 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."

It's a controversial, perverse decision to say the least.

SHARE THIS QUOTE:

McDonald's isn't the only American company to make inroads into the Vatican.

Pope Francis rides a Ford Focus, and Hard Rock Cafe, the Orlando-based chain, recently received approval to open a nearby franchise that would replace a religious bookstore.