Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Times reports that a McDonald’s location opened last week “within eyeshot” of the Vatican, angering several of the area’s senior Roman Catholic leaders and presumably sabotaging their New Year’s diet resolutions. Last October, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia told Italian paper La Repubblica that the restaurant was a “disgrace” and “not at all respectful of the architectural and urban traditions of one of the most characteristic squares overlooking the colonnade of St. Peter.” He’s also got beef with the food itself, calling it “a business decision that ignores the culinary tradition of Roman cuisine.”

Meanwhile, a group of locals calling themselves the Committee for the Protection of Borgo are decrying the denigration of what they feel to be sacred land. Citing the area’s proliferation of opportunistic street vendors, they call the restaurant a “decisive blow on an already wounded animal.” As for McDonald’s, Eater shared this statement from the burger chain:

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.

As the McDonald’s statement notes, the restaurant is located in a Vatican-owned building. And the Vatican also approved a Hard Rock Cafe on the main boulevard leading to St. Peter’s Square. In news we couldn’t make up, it’s replacing a religious bookstore.

Well, if nothing else, at least it gave Larry the Cable Guy new material.

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Stay tuned for the inevitable photo of Pope Francis with a Big Mac in one hand and a commemorative Hard Rock keychain dangling from his rosary.