The Spanish Catholic Church has formally stripped the country’s youngest bishop of his powers, months after he resigned from his clerical post to marry a “transgressive” author of erotica whose works contain satanic references.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the Spanish Episcopal Conference (SEC) said that Xavier Novell – once a high-profile bishop in the Solsona diocese – had forfeited his clerical privileges and powers after marrying novelist Silvia Caballol in a civil ceremony in Barcelona last month.
Citing Canon Law, the SEC – a collection of bishops from dioceses across the country – noted that Novell was now prohibited from “exercising any of the rights and duties inherent to the episcopal office” and cautioned that “other possible consequences” could follow.
Although Novell has been allowed to retain his status as bishop, he cannot conduct any of the functions and roles related to the position – such as “administering the sacraments or engaging in any teaching activity, whether public or private.”
In 2010, Novell had become Spain’s youngest bishop when, as a 41-year-old, he was appointed to Solsona, a small municipality in the country’s northeastern Catalonia. He gained prominence after supporting independence for the region. According to the BBC, Novell had also backed so-called conversion therapies for gay people and carried out exorcisms.
At the end of August, Novell came into the national spotlight after reports surfaced about how he had withdrawn from his post on what was described as “strictly personal grounds.” However, local media outlets reported that he had confided to friends about having “fallen in love with a woman, for the first time in [his] life and [wanted] to do things right.”
Caballol, a 38-year-old clinical psychologist who became a novelist in 2015, was then identified as the object of his affection. Her publisher describes Caballo as a “dynamic and transgressive author.” Her works include titles such as the ‘Amnesia’ trilogy and ‘The Hell of Gabriel’s Lust’, which delves into the “crude struggle between good and evil, between God and Satan, and between the angels and demons.”
Neither Novell nor Caballol has yet commented about their marriage or the suspension of his clerical powers.