After Vatican controversy, McDonald's helps feeds homeless in Rome

ROME, Jan 16 (Reuters) - McDonald's received a lukewarm reception when it opened a new branch just steps from St. Peter's Square last month, but on Monday the fast food giant accepted a challenge to adopt one of Pope Francis's cherished principles - feeding the hungry.

The new restaurant, whose opening in a Vatican-owned building on Dec. 30 upset some purists, donated dozens of meals on Monday to a charity which distributed them at a walk-in clinic in Rome.

4 PHOTOS
McDonald's opens in building owned by Vatican, outrage ensues
See Gallery
McDonald's opens in building owned by Vatican, outrage ensues
A McDonald's sign is seen at Via della Conciliazione street in Rome, Italy in front of Vatican City's St. Peter's Square January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
A McDonald's sign is seen at Via della Conciliazione street in Rome, Italy in front of Vatican City's St. Peter's Square January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
A McDonald's sign is seen at Borgo Pio in Rome, Italy in front of Vatican City January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Pope Francis has made defense of the poor and needy a cornerstone of his papacy, setting up shower stalls for the homeless near the Vatican, offering meals and even a VIP-style visit to the Sistine Chapel.

More on Pope Francis

12 PHOTOS
Pope Francis holds Vatican mass for prisoners
See Gallery
Pope Francis holds Vatican mass for prisoners

Pope Francis celebrates a Holy Mass in front of a thousand prisoners, prison chaplains and volunteers in St. Peter's Basilica on November 6, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican.

(Photo by Andrea Franceschini/Corbis via Getty Images News).

Pope Francis leaves at the end of a Jubilee mass for prisoners in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican November 6, 2016.

(REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

Pope Francis celebrates a Jubilee mass for prisoners in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican November 6, 2016.

(REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

A Swiss Guard on duty as Pope Francis celebrates a Holy Mass in front of a thousand prisoners, prison chaplains and volunteers in St. Peter's Basilica on November 6, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican.

(Andrea Franceschini/Corbis via Getty Images News)

Pope Francis celebrates a Jubilee mass for prisoners in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican November 6, 2016.

(REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

Pope Francis celebrates a Jubilee mass for prisoners in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican November 6, 2016.

(REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

Pope Francis leads a mass for the Jubilee of Inmates, on November 6, 2016 at St Peter's basilica in Vatican. One thousand prisoners -- including some lifers -- take part in a special event at the Vatican this weekend, along with 3,000 family members, prison staff and volunteers. The prisoners from 12 countries will had yesterday the opportunity to confess and walk through the 'Holy Door' at Saint Peter's Basilica, a Jubilee tradition by which Catholics can ask forgiveness for their sins.

(VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis leads the Holy Mass for Jubilee of Prisoners in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican on November 06, 2016. One thousand prisoners take part in a special event at the Vatican, along with 3,000 family members, prison staff and volunteers. The prisoners from 12 countries had yesterday the opportunity to confess and walk through the 'Holy Door' at St. Peter's Basilica, a Jubilee tradition by which Catholics can ask forgiveness for their sins.

(Photo by Giuseppe Ciccia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Pope Francis leads a mass for the Jubilee of Inmates, on November 6, 2016 at St Peter's basilica in Vatican. One thousand prisoners -- including some lifers -- take part in a special event at the Vatican this weekend, along with 3,000 family members, prison staff and volunteers. The prisoners from 12 countries will had yesterday the opportunity to confess and walk through the 'Holy Door' at Saint Peter's Basilica, a Jubilee tradition by which Catholics can ask forgiveness for their sins.

(VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis leads a mass for the Jubilee of Inmates, on November 6, 2016 at St Peter's basilica in Vatican. One thousand prisoners -- including some lifers -- take part in a special event at the Vatican this weekend, along with 3,000 family members, prison staff and volunteers. The prisoners from 12 countries will had yesterday the opportunity to confess and walk through the 'Holy Door' at Saint Peter's Basilica, a Jubilee tradition by which Catholics can ask forgiveness for their sins.

(VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis leads the Holy Mass for Jubilee of Prisoners in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican on November 06, 2016. One-thousand prisoners took part in a special event at the Vatican, along with 3,000 family members, prison staff and volunteers. The prisoners from 12 countries had yesterday the opportunity to confess and walk through the 'Holy Door' at St. Peter's Basilica, a Jubilee tradition by which Catholics can ask forgiveness for their sins.

(Photo by: Giuseppe Ciccia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


On Monday, homeless and needy people came to claim their double cheeseburger, chopped apple and bottle of water.

Pierfrancesco Spiga, 46, a Rome native who lost his job as a gardener and now sleeps in a residence run by a cooperative, said other companies should take up the initiative.

"It would be good if these multi-national companies gave food at the end of the day to poor people who don't have any, instead of throwing it away," Spiga said.

Some cardinals disapproved of the Vatican's leasing the building on the cobble-stoned Borgo Pio to the U.S. chain, and one said the space would be better used to shelter the needy.

McDonald's, which did not comment on the initiative, pledged 1,000 meals which will be distributed by the Medicina Solidale charity over the next six months.

The project was born when Medicina Solidale's director wrote to McDonald's after the controversy over the site, charity representative Fotini Iordanoglou said outside the restaurant just steps from St. Peter's Square.

"McDonald's responded, giving us this chance to help," Iordanoglou said. "We absolutely won't resolve hunger but we are trying to give a small meal to people who need it."

Fifty lunches were served on Monday. A spokesman for the non-profit group said they hope to offer 100 once a week, and will look into whether the project can be made permanent. (additional reporting by Antonio Denti Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)


Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.