Novell tightens the rope with the Vatican and risks a canonical condemnation by asking to marry while still bishop emeritus


Xavier Novell tightens the rope. With the Spanish Church, with which he has completely broken ties. He has ordered his bank to return the payroll that the Episcopal Conference regularly sends him, about 1,200 euros as bishop emeritus. And with that of Rome, which he has openly challenged by requesting a civil marriage with Silvia Caballol without being granted a canonical dispensation or secularization. What’s more: as of today, neither the Bishopric of Solsona nor the Episcopal Conference even know if it has requested it from Pope Francis.


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Nobody knows, nobody speaks. The scandal grows and the institution continues without giving any explanation. And that, for legal purposes, Xavier Novell has no impediment to marry … civilly. The emeritus of Solsona, so says his ID, is single and his partner, Silvia Caballol, is divorced, with which both are free to take the step and get married, as they intend by virtue of the document presented in the Civil Registry of Suria October 7. Yet Novell is still a bishop and a priest.

Is suspended to divinis Novell? Some sources, cited by The vanguard, They assure this, making use of Canon 1314 of the Code of Canon Law, which establishes the suspension to divinis automatic (latae sententiae) for having shown his willingness to marry without having permission to do so. What does this mean? That Novell could not exercise the priestly or episcopal ministry. What’s more, you could even be excommunicated if you maintain this attitude.

In fact, canon 1394 includes, among those classified as crimes against special obligations, that of “who attempts marriage”, must be suspended and “can be gradually punished with deprivation or also with expulsion from the clerical state.” However, other sources consulted by elDiario.es qualify Novell’s automatic suspension, arguing that, for the moment, the alleged marriage is only “tentative”. Of course: “if everything were normal, a criminal precept would have to be imposed by virtue of canon 1319, a threat of sanction”, being “close to committing” a canonical crime. Although this case, these sources admit, “is anything but normal.” Also, canon 1339 speaks of “formal reprimand” for the occasion of crime, and for the scandal generated among the congregation.

Fait accompli policy

In any case, the possible sanctions do not seem to worry the still prelate. Sources close to the process point out that Novell “has wanted to cut off” with the institution, and bet on the route “of the fait accompli”, since a time of silence and reflection would have been requested before taking any step that , in the case of the episcopal order, it can only be approved by the Pope.

Has Francisco given Novell special permission to marry? It seems strange, because if Bergoglio had allowed the prelate to make his union with Caballol official, the logical thing would be for the link to be through the Church. Or that, at least, someone would give an explanation. Sources close to the case suggest in the step taken by Novell an attempt to “pressure” to obtain a quick dispensation and thus avoid a scandal that, however, is already more than served. The registry of the premarital admonitions of the bishop emeritus, could also find that the dispensation does not order Novell to leave the diocese (move away from Solsona or Suria), something that he does not plan to do.

At the moment, neither one thing nor the other. In fact, the only thing that is known is that Novell has broken all contact with his previous life, that he is looking for work in the engineering world, that he has ever attended mass in Montserrat, that he goes out for a run in the mornings … and that in his marriage application before the Suria Registry he places his address in the same place that appears on his ID: the episcopal palace of Solsona. And also, that while the Novell-Caballol affair continues to make headlines, the Church buries the scandal of homosexual conversion therapies, in which the prelate would have participated, and that it would affect, at least, half a dozen bishops of our country, as advanced by elDiario.es.

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