The Deacon's Bench

The decree, from the Vatican newspaper:

L’Osservatore Romano on Tuesday congratulated the show on its 20th anniversary, praising its philosophical leanings as well as its stinging and often irreverent take on religion.

Without Homer Simpson and the other yellow-skinned characters “many today wouldn’t know how to laugh,” said the article titled “Aristotle’s Virtues and Homer’s Doughnut.”

The paper credited “The Simpsons” — the longest-running American animated program — with opening up cartoons to an adult audience.

The show is based on “realistic and intelligent writing,” it said, though it added there was some reason to criticize its “excessively crude language, the violence of certain episodes or some extreme choices by the scriptwriters.”

Religion, from the snore-evoking sermons of the Rev. 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,” it said.

A particularly choice episode of “The Simpsons” involved Homer and Bart taking classes to convert to Catholicism. (Above, Homer indulges in a little confession with a parish priest, voiced by Liam Neeson.)  Marge fretted that she wouldn’t end up in the same heaven, and had a nightmare vision of what that version of the afterlife might entail, complete with every ethnic stereotype you can imagine. Take a look and laugh. It’s a hoot.

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