In the Vatican newspaper’s latest bid to appear hip to impressionable youth long after they would conceivably care (see also: their recent embrace of The Beatles), L’Osservatore Romano recently pronounced, “Few people know it, and he does everything to hide it. But it’s true: Homer J. Simpson is Catholic.” Despite the fact that Homer has never been particularly pious—he regularly sleeps through church, has been known to worship waffles stuck to the ceiling, and characterizes Christianity as the religion with “all the well-meaning rules that don’t work out in real life”—the article titled “Homer And Bart Are Catholics” says that “The Simpsons is among the few TV programs for children in which Christian faith, religion, and questions about God are recurrent themes.”
It doesn’t seem to mind that most of those questions about God end in punchlines—such as the time Springfield built a Christian theme park, only to discover that the religious visions that seemingly brought the community together were actually a shared hallucination caused by huffing gas—or that its most religious character, Ned Flanders, exists almost solely as an object of ridicule. And then there’s the fact that the Catholic League regularly takes issue with The Simpsons for stuff like calling the Last Rites “voodoo” and mocking the Eucharist.
Of course, Simpsons producer Al Jean also doesn’t buy it: He tells Entertainment Weekly that they’ve “pretty clearly shown that Homer is not Catholic,” pointing out that the First Church of Springfield belongs to The Western Branch Of American Reform Presbylutheranism, and saying, “I really don’t think [Homer] could go without eating meat on Fridays—for even an hour.” Mmmmm, pointless appeals to pop culture-based publicity.