Spain’s youngest bishop has been stripped of his church powers, the country’s episcopal conference said on Saturday, after he married a psychologist-turned-author of satanic erotica.
“As is publicly known, Bishop Xavier Novell Goma, bishop emeritus of Solsona, has contracted a civil marriage with Ms Silvia Caballol, on 22 November, 2021 in the town of Suria, in the province of Barcelona,” the conference wrote in the statement.
Any cleric attempting to get married, even if only civilly, is subject to suspension, the statement added.
The churchman will retain his title as a bishop but will not be permitted to carry out any of the roles associated with the post, including the administration of the sacraments. “Any teaching activity, both in public and private, is prohibited,” it said.
Novell became Spain’s youngest bishop when he was appointed to Solsona in 2010 aged 41, and was a highly regarded conservative who reportedly endorsed gay conversion therapy and practised exorcisms. He also attracted controversy with his support of Catalan independence.
Novell stepped down in August this year citing personal reasons, and the scandal broke weeks later, when the 52-year-old bishop’s relationship with Caballol, the author of works including The Hell of Gabriel’s Lust, became known publicly.
At the time, Novell was quoted by website Religión Digital as saying “I have fallen in love and want to do things properly.”
On the site of Caballol’s publisher Lacre, the 38-year-old writer and qualified clinical psychologist is described as “a dynamic and transgressive author who made her mark in the challenging world of literature upsetting our moral and ethical mores”.
Novell is now prohibited “from exercising all the rights and responsibilities inherent in the episcopal function”, said the conference, which did not rule out “other possible consequences”.
Novell has reportedly been seeking work as an agronomist in the Barcelona region.