Cardinals fight plans to open a McDonald’s next to Saint Peter’s Square

The Coliseum. The Trevi Fountain. Saint Peter’s Basilica. McDonald’s?

Rome, Italy is known for its historic sites and beautiful art but is it known for its fast food? Not really, but that’s not stopping plans to open a McDonald’s next to Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.

The project has angered a group of cardinals, including a group that live above the location of the proposed site.

“It’s a controversial, perverse decision to say the least,” said Cardinal Elio Sgreccia in an interview with La Repubblica. Opening a branch of the popular fast-food chain, Sgreccia argued, is “by no means respectful of the architectural traditions of one of the most characteristic squares which look onto the colonnade of Saint Peters.”

Sgreccia, who doesn’t actually live in the location that would look down on the restaurant, was speaking on behalf of the seven cardinals who do reside in the 5,800-square-foot site. One cardinal was so enraged that he even wrote a letter to Pope Francis urging an intervention into the commercial project.

“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,’” Sgreccia said.

Still, the uproar over the project, which is expected to put 30,000 Euros (or $33,000) a month into the Vatican’s wallet, is unlikely to have an effect.

Cardinal Domenix Calcagana heads the ASPA, the authority in charge of the Vatican’s real estate. He told La Repubblica that there are no plans to “back down” because the deal is legally valid. Calcagana: “I don’t see the scandal.”

It’s not the first time Ronald McDonald and the crew has run into problems in Italy. Earlier this year McDonald’s applied to build a site in the Piazza del Duomo. That proposal spurred an online uproar with thousands signing a Facebook petition to oppose the project. And the International Slow Food Movement, protested the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps.