‘D’oh! I Thought This Was A Confessional’

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, declared Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Maggie (aka The Simpsons) to be a Roman Catholic family.

With more than 20 years of episodes under their belts, the dysfunctional working-class family whose dynamics and perspectives offer biting social critique of American society have found a home under the Vatican wing. L’Osservatore Romano wrote:

…In an article headlined “Homer and Bart are Catholics”, the Vatican newspaper said: “The Simpsons are among the few TV programs for children in which Christian faith, religion, and questions about God are recurrent themes.”

The family “recites prayers before meals and, in their own peculiar way, believes in the life thereafter”. It quoted an analysis by a Jesuit priest, Father Francesco Occhetta, of a 2005 episode of The Simpsons, “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star,” which revolved around Catholicism and was aired a few weeks after the death of Pope John Paul II.

The episode starts with Bart being expelled from Springfield Elementary School and being enrolled in a Catholic school where he meets a sympathetic priest, voiced by the actor Liam Neeson, who draws him into Catholicism with his kindness. Homer then decides to convert to Catholicism, to the horror of his wife Marge, the Rev Lovejoy and Ned Flanders. The episode touches on issues such as religious conflict, interfaith dialogue, homosexuality and stem cell research.

“Few people know it, and he does everything he can to hide it, but it is true: Homer J Simpson is a Catholic,” insists L’Osservatore Romano.

The Simpsons even skewers its own success. See below U.K. graffiti artist Banksy’s dark satire of the sweat shops that produce Simpsons paraphernalia.

One could call it an animated reflection on Rerum Novarum: On Capital and Labor (Pope Leo XIII, 1891) and “the right of workers and dignity of work.”

Irish Woman Calls on Catholics to Boycott Mass on Sept. 26 For Greater Inclusion of Women

Jennifer Sleeman, an 80-year-old Catholic convert from Clonakilty in Cork, Ireland, is calling on Catholic women to “join your sisters on Sunday, September 26th. On that one day, boycott Mass. Stay at home and pray for change. We are the majority. We may have been protesting individually but unremarked on, but together we have strength and our absence, the empty pews, will be noticed.”

Men are also welcome to participate in the boycott, she said. “It’s not just about Mná na h-Éireann [Women of Ireland]. But it’s for them, because they are frustrated.” This invitation is now being spread to the faithful women of the Catholic church across the world.

(If you want to learn about the map of women boycotting on Sunday, Sept. 26, then go here.)

I love the fact that she uses the Gaelic phrase Mná na h-Éireann. It’s a phrase that carries great cultural weight referencing the critical role of women in the Irish liberation struggle.

Sleemen notes: “I am not a cradle Catholic. I chose to join as an adult [54 years ago] helped by meeting a wonderful priest … but I now wonder did I do the right thing? … Somehow I have grown up but the church has not.”

Here’s an excerpt from the news article:

“Whatever change you long for, recognition, ordination, the end of celibacy, which is another means of keeping women out, join with your sisters and let the hierarchy know by your absence that the days of an exclusively male-dominated church are over.”

Of the sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, she said: “I find I belong to an organization that seems caught in a time warp, run by old celibate men divorced from the realities of life, with a lonely priesthood struggling with the burden of celibacy where rules and regulations have more weight than the original message of community and love.”

She said: “Some of the grandchildren go through the rites of sacraments, but seldom, if ever, visit a church afterwards. Some of my children are actively looking for a meaningful spiritual life, but they do not find it in the Catholic Church — I must except my eldest son who is a monk in Glenstal Abbey, another place that helps me keep some shreds of faith.”

You can read the whole article here. Or the article in the Irish Times here. There were two comments posted on the article that I particularly liked:

Well, hats off to Granny. It’s true women are treated as second class citizens. More women should support Jennifer & boycott Sunday Mass for a few weeks. Maybe it will wake up the Vatican to start doing the right thing instead of giving lip service. Come on Ladies show the church your not just a bunch of dumb sheep. The church seems to forget God created Women also. Ladies – hit them in the pocketbook. that’s where it will hurt!! Time to weed the chaff from the wheat.

Why not go back to the HEDGEROW MASS, when we had to endure anti-Catholicism by the Brits.

I think “hedgerow Masses” are a great idea! This is the equivalent of the house-church movement in the United States or the base community movement in Latin America and SE Asia. Are there priests who are willing to serve these communities? My guess is that there are.