McDonald’s has a knack for polluting beautiful historic sites with its greasy fries and special sauce. Last year, the chain caused outrage when it opened inside an historic Hangzhou villa. More recently, the burger behemoth announced plans to open near a 17th-century Italian cathedral in Florence, spurring tens of thousands of locals to sign a petition against it. Now, there’s a proposal for a Mickey D’s just on the edge of Vatican City, home of Pope Francis (and the Roman Catholic Church headquarters).
According to The Guardian, cardinals who live above the proposed restaurant site are fighting to keep the Golden Arches out. They say they weren’t consulted about the new store and are worried that they’ll be the ones footing the bill to adapt the building.
The Guardian reports that APSA, the agency that manages the Vatican’s real estate assets, notified the cardinals this summer of its intent to rent a ground floor space to McDonald’s. Extensive renovations and additions, like a new flue for the kitchen, will be required, though the Vatican has denied that cardinals will shoulder the costs of the buildout.
Still, there are other issues at stake: Namely, that a neon-hued, Big Mac-shilling McDonald’s wouldn’t exactly add to the sacred ambience in Vatican City. Italy has long worked to preserve its cultural identity, and the cardinals argue that the proposed McDonald’s at the Vatican would only add to the problem of modern shops and trinket-sellers in the area, inflicting a “decisive blow on an already wounded animal.”
But McDonald’s isn’t going down without a fight: According to the Guardian, the chain outbid all other potential tenants for the space, offering to pay “a few tens of thousands of euros per month” in rent. Also of note: There’s a Burger King two blocks away, as Eater contributor and resident of Rome Katie Parla notes.
While Pope Francis has remained mum on the issue, a look at his usual diet suggests he likely isn't the biggest fan of McDonald’s. The Cool Pope’s 2015 American tour proved that he has pretty discerning tastes, consuming items such as tuna tartare and veal medallions. The Pope also travels with his own preferred brand of Roman bottled water, and once brought back a plane full of ice cream from the Philippines.
He has, however, visited a Burger King before, reserving the restaurant three days ahead of time for use as a personal changing room.
Update Friday 10/14: This post has been corrected to note that the proposed McDonald’s would not be in Vatican City proper, but very close by.