The line between evangelizing and commercializing can be a thin one.
The claim by the Vatican newspaper that Homer Simpson is a Catholic is a good illustration.
In these dark days of Vatican history when the Catholic "brand" isn't doing so well, L'Osservatore Romano's embrace of Homer could be a marketing strategy to bolster its image.
Basking in the glow of Homer's popularity won't work, however, unless Rome is ready to accept a form of Catholicism that includes the following features:
Gay marriage. When the law permitted them in Springfield, HJS speedily got himself marrying credentials and opened up a wedding chapel in his garage. Did right well, too.
Church unity, achieved. Homer most often attends services in the Protestant sanctuary of the Rev. Mr. Lovejoy, but has never shown an inclination to place any church, or any religion for that matter, above another. They're all the same for him if there's something in it for him. He even did a brief missionary stint on a South Pacific island.
Radical feminism. With Homer's basic approval, Marge, the real saint in all of this, has followed her passions in all sorts of directions (including training as a cop) that are not associated with conventional Vatican expectations of wifery and motherhood. Likewise, he wouldn't think of standing in the way of daughter Lisa, the smartest in the bunch and a fulsome feminist if there ever was one.
Homer isn't so much a free thinker as a free believer, a patron of everything that looks like an invitation to one of the sins of excess. Not un-Catholic, exactly, but defnitely not your grand parents' Catholic.