Spanish bishop who resigned from office will attempt marriage

Bishop Xavier Novell Gomà Bishop Xavier Novell Gomà, Bishop Emeritus of Solsona. | Conferencia Episcopal Española via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Bishop Xavier Novell Gomà, who resigned as Bishop of Solsona in August, has applied for a civil marriage license with his partner, who is herself a divorcee.

After various inquiries with Spanish ecclesial authorities by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, there is no record that Bishop Novell, 52, has been dismissed from the clerical state, or has even requested such.

Those who are in holy orders invalidly attempt marriage, as do those bound by the bond of a prior marriage. A cleric who attempts marriage can be punished, even by dismissal from the clerical state.

According to a document released by Spanish media, Bishop Novell made the request with the Civil Registry of Suria in Spain’s Barcelona Province Oct. 7.

Within the 15 days established by the Civil Registry of Spain, the authorities ask "all persons who know of any legal impediment" to state so before the marriage takes place.

In the document signed by Justice of the Peace Jaume Bransuela Alsina, "all persons who know of any legal impediment (...) are asked to express it in writing or orally to this Court within a period of fifteen days."

Bishop Novell resigned Aug. 23 citing “strictly personal reasons.” The diocese announced that the decision was made freely and in accord with a canon which asks that a bishop “who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause … present his resignation from office.”

Various media broke the news Sept. 5 that Bishop Novell moved to Manresa to live with Silvia Caballol, 38, a psychologist and author of erotic novels with satanic overtones, some of them restricted to those 18 or older. 

Caballol is separated from her husband, and the mother of two. 

Bishop Novell was born in 1969 in Spain’s Lérida province.

He earned a degree in agricultural technical engineering from the University of Lleida, a bachelor's in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1997, and a doctorate in 2004.

He was ordained a priest of the Solsona diocese in 1997, and in 2010 he was consecrated a bishop and appointed ordinary of the same diocese.

The apostolic administrator of Solsona, Bishop Romà Casanova i Casanova of Vic, wrote in September that after Bishop Novell’s resignation some of the feelings people were experiencing were of "truncated fidelity," "abandoned fatherhood" and "shaken fraternity", because a bishop’s relationship with his diocese is "much more than the cold reality of a captain who makes things go as best as possible."

Bishop Casanova said, “the Lord never abandons his people. To come out of this we have to live out the communion that leads us to fraternity and trusting prayer. We need to hear the voice of the Lord and experience the strength of his hand that does not allow us to perish.”

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