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

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 3, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

After obtaining a dispensation from Pope Francis, the bishop emeritus of Solsona in Spain, Xavier Novell, has entered into a canonical marriage with psychologist and author Silvia Caballol.

Caballol announced the marriage on Instagram this week, saying: “Xavier and I have finally been able to get married in the Church, thanks to the mercy of the Holy Father who has granted him laicization.”

“It has been a long road, but we have been able to regularize our canonical situation: to get married as we wanted to and be able to receive Communion again,” Caballol announced.

“I don’t think our love nor the Church deserves to be hidden. Nor do I believe that the cover-up that accompanied my husband’s resignation [as diocesan bishop] two and a half years ago was entirely correct,” she added.

“Sorry to all of you who think it would have been better to keep it a secret, but I cannot continue to act in a way that I do not think or feel. Having said that, I can’t do anything but show, once again, the beauty of love. Happy Easter Monday, a day to be reborn like flowers, bud forth like trees, and to resurrect like the [Son of] Man.” The psychologist concluded her message with a photo of her husband and herself in a wedding kiss.

Who is Xavier Novell?

Xavier Novell was born in 1969 in Lérida province in Spain. After completing his studies in agricultural technical engineering at the University of Lérida, he began his ecclesiastical studies.

Novell graduated in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1997 and was ordained a priest that same year. He served as a parochial vicar and as professor of theological anthropology for a few years. In 2005 he was appointed secretary general and chancellor of the Diocese of Solsona. He was named a chaplain of His Holiness on July 23, 2008. He also served as secretary to Bishop Jaume Traserra, who headed the Diocese of Solsona until 2010.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Novell bishop of Solsona on Nov. 3, 2010, and he was consecrated on Dec. 12 of that year at age 41, becoming the youngest bishop in the Spanish episcopate.

On Aug. 23, 2021, Pope Francis accepted his resignation. According to the Diocese of Solsona, Novell resigned for “strictly personal reasons in accordance with what is established in Canon 401 §2 of the Code of Canon Law.”

In September 2021, articles began appearing in the press reporting that Novell, then 52, had moved to Manresa to live with Caballol, who was 38 at the time.

After the news broke, the racy character of some of her literary works became known. Defending her two novels, the author said that she wrote them “during a very particular time in my life,” adding that “whoever is free from sin can cast the first stone. Many have already thrown them, believing themselves to be superior in values and morals.” 

The archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Juan José Omella, asked at the time that the couple’s unfolding situation not be turned “into a morbid novel.”

After Novell contracted a civil marriage with Caballol before a justice of the peace, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference issued a statement in December 2021 making it clear that “Canon 1394.1 of the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church stipulates that ‘A cleric who attempts marriage, even if only civilly, incurs a ‘latae sententiae’ suspension.’”

Bishop Romá Casanova, who was appointed apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Solsona following Novell’s resignation, declared that after entering a civil marriage, Novell was thus prohibited from exercising the priesthood or pastoral governance and “the exercise of all rights and functions inherent to the episcopal office.”

In April 2022, Caballol gave birth to twins fathered by Novell. She has three other children from a previous marriage.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Join Our Free Mailing List

You can unsubscribe at any time. For more detail see our Privacy Policy.