“One cannot participate in the Eucharist and be racist”, a Portuguese bishop has stressed.

– “One cannot share God’s bread and say to a brother who sits beside one ‘Go back to your homeland!'”

Bishop of Setúbal José Ornelas was preaching in the cathedral this Thursday, June 11, in a Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

In his homily, Ornelas joined his voice to all those condemning “racism, injustice and exclusion”, and underlined that all these have no place in the Catholic Church.

Commenting in his sermon on the day’s second reading – from 1 Corinthians, where Paul writes of the bread and the cup being a “participation” in the body and blood of Christ, and insists that “we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” – Ornelas said that Christians come from all over the earth “gathered by the Lord Jesus, who becomes present among his people in the Eucharist”.

“The bread and the wine, the body and blood of the Lord, are food and drink that nourish this new family, this new people, coming from all races, cultures and languages ​​of the earth forming a new people, without discrimination or the exclusion of anyone”, the bishop explained.

“These days we have seen the world rise up to condemn racism, injustice and exclusion”, Ornelas continued, in reference to the protests that originated in the US with the murder by white policemen of unarmed black man George Floyd but which have now spread to all corners of the globe.

“The Eucharist is the expression of God’s dream to bring to all humanity the bread of dignity, solidarity and life and the wine of generosity, joy and love”, the bishop said, before warning:

“One cannot take part in the Eucharist and be racist, one cannot share God’s bread and say to a brother who sits beside one ‘Go back to your homeland!'”

“The Eucharist makes the Church a laboratory of the world according to God’s plan”, Ornelas celebrated.

– Encouragement in the time of coronavirus to be people “who share, who multiply, who distribute”

In his Corpus Christi sermon, the Bishop of Setúbal went on to explain that “the way to transform the world” from this realisation that all are one in Christ is presented to Catholics in Jesus’ example of feeding the people who come to him hungry “for life, for health, for hope, for justice”.

“The Eucharist transforms us into people who share, who multiply, who distribute”, the bishop noted, adding that “in the times we are living in, this dimension will be very important, so that no one is left behind and has what is necessary to live”.

Ornelas noted that Thursday’s Feast of Corpus Christi came at a time “still of restraint, but also in a process of leaving the great confinement to which the pandemic that has devastated the world has led us”.

But he added that now “is the time to return to community”.

“Confinement was necessary, but with responsibility and security, we have to re-establish the bonds of brotherhood that the Lord creates with his body and blood, the generators of life, communion and mission”, the bishop appealed.

More stories on Novena on the Portuguese Church:

Portuguese bishop Ornelas says slums a “stain” and a “disgrace” for country

Portuguese Church commission reminds business on COVID-19: “Corporate social responsibility cannot be just for show”

Portuguese cardinal discourages communion on the tongue: “Christ said ‘Take and eat’, not ‘Open your mouth’”

Portuguese cardinal calls “ignorance, fanaticism or madness” belief coronavirus is God’s punishment


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.