Rome, Italy, Jan 4, 2017 / 11:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Last week's opening of a McDonald's in a Vatican-owned property just around the corner from St. Peter's Square has been both welcomed and decried by Rome's locals. Some Romans have expressed joy on social media at the new restaurant, noting that the area around the Vatican is filled with overpriced restaurants catering to tourists, and suggesting the McDonald's could actually be more discreet. Others have worried about changes to the area's cultural identity.

Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, was a vocal critic ahead of the opening, calling it a “controversial, perverse decision to say the least.”

Dubbed by some as “McVatican,” the new restaurant is located in a Vatican property in Rome, at the intersection of the Borgo Pio and Via del Mascheriny, just a few minutes' walk from St. Peter’s Basilica. After having received numerous requests from different companies to move into the vacant space, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which oversees the Vatican's assets, chose to rent it to McDonald’s for 30,000 euros ($31,400) a month. The decision was announced in October 2016.

Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of APSA, said he saw no problem with the McDonald's. He told Italian daily La Repubblica in October that everything was done “in respect of the law and that there will be nothing done which will go against the current rules, tradition and interests of the Holy See.”

McDonald's itself stated that its new location was in a tourist area outside Vatican City, according to Reuters. “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,” the chain noted.

Cardinal Sgreccia had also spoken to La Repubblica in October, saying a McDonald's so close to the Vatican “is not at all respectful of the architectural and urban traditions” of Rome, calling the deal “a business decision that, moreover, ignores the culinary traditions of the Roman restaurant.”