Vatican Claims Homer Is Catholic; Saints Go Begging : The Two-Way Saints don't grow on trees. But Catholics got six more of them Sunday – the most high-profile being Australia's first Catholic saint, Sister Mary MacKillop. That's big news – but it can't match the Vatican's story about Homer Simpson.
NPR logo Vatican Claims Homer Is Catholic; Saints Go Begging

Vatican Claims Homer Is Catholic; Saints Go Begging

Man Of The Cloth -- But Which One? Homer Simpson performs a marriage in The Simpsons episode "There is Something About Marrying." FOX hide caption

toggle caption
FOX

As anyone who's driven more than one mile in America knows, saints don't grow on trees. But Catholics got six more of them Sunday – the most high-profile being Australia's first Catholic saint, Sister Mary MacKillop. That's big news – but not big enough to match an item in the Vatican news daily about Homer Simpson.

That story seems to have taken the wind from the saints' sails, as U.S. media seized on the idea that America's Everyman has been embraced by the Vatican. And it may be a case of xenophobia -- all six saints canonized Sunday were from countries other than the United States. Or perhaps we should call it yankophilia?

The Simpsons article in L'Osservatore Romano has been hard to track down – something I’m attributing to a delay between its daily and weekly archive. But Bing still has a cache version, which cites the Simpsons episode The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star.

In that episode, Homer and Bart are swayed toward Catholicism by Father Sean (voiced by Liam Neeson) -- and a pancake breakfast. For Homer, an epic session in the confessional follows.

The Vatican article is a bit off-key, but it maintains a formal academic stance, naming the Simpsons father figure in full: Homer J. Simpson.

As for MacKillop, her supporters basked in the news that a woman who was briefly excommunicated – possibly for exposing pedophilia in the church in the 1800s – has been made a saint.

And it turns out that Michael Connolly of The Wall Street Journal is a relative of MacKillop's.

But the Vatican kind of blew itself out of the water with a small article on Homer and Bart -- the second complimentary article on The Simpsons in the past year.

At the canonization event, Pope Benedict XVI even went old-school, making the announcements in Latin. But if he really wanted to make a splash, maybe he should have gotten Springfield's Troy McClure to announce the new saints.