The official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has declared that the beer-guzzling, TV addict Homer Simpson and his family are Catholics, and parents should not be afraid to let their children watch the show.
In an article on Sunday headlined "Homer and Bart are Catholics", the newspaper cited a study by a Jesuit priest of a 2005 episode of the show called "The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star". That study concludes that "The Simpsons" is "among the few TV programs for kids in which Christian faith, religion and questions about God are recurrent themes."
The family prays before meals, and "in its own way, believes in the hereafter," the newspaper quoted the Jesuit study as saying.
This is the second time the animated show, which is broadcast in 90 countries, has been praised by the Vatican.
Shortly before Christmas last year, L'Osservatore Romano, commended it, saying that despite the regrettable crude language and occasions of violence, "serious analysts praise the realism and intelligence of its scripts".
The paper describes the show as a "tender and irreverent, scandalous and ironic, boisterous and profound, philosophical and sometimes even theological, nutty synthesis of pop culture and of the lukewarm and nihilistic American middle class".
Among themes featured in the show's almost 450 episodes, "one of the most important, and most serious" is that of God and the relationship between each person and God, done in a way that mirrors "the religious and spiritual confusion of our times," it said.
Religion, from the snore-evoking sermons of the Reverend Lovejoy to Homer's face to face talks with God, appears so frequently on the show that it could be possible to come up with a "Simpsonian theology," the paper said.
Homer's religious confusion and ignorance are "a mirror of the indifference and the need that modern man feels toward faith," it concluded.