L’Osservatore Romano marked the 20th anniversary of “The Simpsons” in its Oct. 17 edition by lauding the popular television show for taking religious faith seriously, although often irreverently.
And, although "few know it, and he does everything to hide it ... it's true: Homer J. Simpson is Catholic," according to newspaper.
The newspaper cited an analysis in the Oct. 16 issue of the Italian Jesuit magazine, La Civilita Cattolica.
In it, Father Francesco Occhetta examined a Catholic-themed episode from 2005, "The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star," in which Homer and his son Bart are befriended by a priest named Father Sean, and consider conversion to Catholicism.
"The Simpsons remain among the few TV programs for kids in which the Christian faith, religion and the question on God are recurrent themes," Father Occhetta wrote.
Homer may snore through his evangelical pastor Rev. Lovejoy's sermons, and he may heckle his evangelical neighbor, Ned Flanders, but religious faith is realistically portrayed in the show, he said.
Characters are often shown praying and the Simpsons family always prays before meals. "In their own way," Father Occhetta wrote, the character all "believe in the 'beyond'."
The Vatican newspaper said "Parents shouldn't be afraid to let their children watch the adventures of the 'little guys in yellow'."
The content and themes of “The Simpsons” are so realistic that they could be used to kickstart discussions among parents and their children about issues of family life, school, relationships, and social and political issues.
The show’s "skeptical realism” does not lend itself to any easy moral lessons, the paper suggested. But it does tend to deflate false illusions about the world. And, the paper added, "a world devoid of easy illusions is more human and, perhaps, more Christian."