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Posted at 5:45 PM ET, 10/18/2010

IS THE DOPE CATHOLIC? The Vatican blesses Homer Simpson (despite what the show says)

By Michael Cavna


Homer Simpson, who never met a religious belief he couldn't tune out, scoff at or sleep through, has been declared a true Catholic by none other than the Vatican, according to its official newspaper.

In an article Sunday headlined "Homer and Bart Are Catholics," the L'Osservatore Romano newspaper said: "Few people know it, and he does everything to hide it. But it's true: Homer J. Simpson is Catholic."

L'Osservatore Romano cited a Jesuit priest's study that says the animated Fox show is "among the few TV programs for kids in which Christian faith, religion and questions about God are recurrent themes." (Although admittedly, "The Simpsons" aren't quite "Veggie Tales.") The study reportedly points to a 2005 episode titled "The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star," in which Bart enrolls at a Catholic school and meets a hip priest (voiced by Liam Neeson) and Homer -- wooed in part by the twin powers of pancake suppers and absolution -- decides to convert to Catholicism.

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The show, however, confirms to Comic Riffs that Homer is most decidedly not Catholic.

Fox tells us executive producer Al Jean's response was "shock and awe." Said Jean: "I guess it makes up for me not going to church for 20 years. We've pretty clearly shown that Homer is not Catholic. I really don't think he could go without eating meat on Fridays -- for even an hour."

As a regular parishioner of the Rev. Lovejoy's, Homer has been identified on the show as having attended -- and snoozed through -- services at the Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism. (In the episode "Wedding for Disaster," Springfield receives a visit from the Parson, "the highest-ranking clergyman in the First Church of Springfield's Presby-Lutheran denomination," according to the book "Simpsons World" -- and "the most saintly person to visit Springfield since Mother Teresa stopped there to gas up her Vespa.")

Some of the more notable faith-themed "Simpsons" episode titles over the decades have included "Thank God It's Doomsday," "Simpsons Bible Stories" and "Pray Anything."

So is L'Osservatore Romano truly so passionate about "The Simpsons" that it is seeking a cartoon conversion? Or is this just a way to connect through pop culture? Well, as the Telegraph points out, the formerly stiff paper of record "has ventured into popular culture in the last three years under a new editor, commenting on everything from the Beatles and the Blues Brothers to the blockbuster film 'Avatar' and the Harry Potter books and films."

Meantime, here -- as cited by Comic Riffsters -- are a handful of quotes from a show that consistently satirizes faith:

7. Lisa: "How brilliant of God to remove my skepticism by making me His chosen one!"

6. A Super Bowl commercial that parodies ZZ Top: "The Catholic Church -- We've Made a Few...Changes."

5. Homer: "What if we picked the wrong religion? Every week, we're just making God madder and madder!"

4. Homer (after persuading islanders to build a church): "I may not know that much about God, but I have to say we built an awfully nice cage for him."

3. Marge (dreaming of a life as Eve): "I'm sure God will let us return soon. How long can he hold a grudge?"

2. Homer: "There's no way in God's heaven that I can get into God's heaven. But maybe he'll let me in if I warn others that the Apocalypse is coming."

1. Homer: "I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there: Please save me, Superman."

THE RELATED READ:

ANIMATION OF THE DAY: Executive producer Al Jean explains the "Banksy opening" of 'THE SIMPSONS'


By Michael Cavna  | October 18, 2010; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  The Animation  | Tags:  The Simpsons  
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