Spanish bishop gets civilly married

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

Barcelona, Spain, Nov 23, 2021 / 12:05 pm (CNA).

Bishop Xavier Novell, who unexpectedly resigned in August as bishop of Solsona, Spain, entered into a civil marriage with Silvia Caballol on Nov. 22.

As reported by Catalan television TV3, the marriage ceremony took place on Monday at the courthouse in Suria, Barcelona province, and was attended by only two witnesses.

According to this same source, last Friday the couple asked the justice of the peace that the wedding take place on Monday outside normal hours, as the Justice of the Peace and Civil Registry of Suria are only open Tuesday through Friday.

A priest or bishop who has not received a dispensation from the clerical state from the Vatican commits a canonical crime by contracting a civil marriage, which by virtue of his state as a vowed celibate is invalid from the canonical point of view.

Canon 194 of the Code of Canon Law stipulates that “the cleric who attempts  to marry, even if only civilly,” will be “removed from ecclesiastical office.”

Canon 1394 adds that “a cleric who attempts marriage, even if only civilly, incurs a latae sententiae (immediate) suspension. If he does not repent after being warned and continues to give scandal, he can be punished gradually by privations or even by dismissal from the clerical state.”

After learning of Novell’s intention to marry, Cardinal Juan José Omella, the archbishop of Barcelona, said Oct. 19 in an interview with Cadena SER radio in Catalonia that the bishop emeritus of Solsona “can only opt for a civil marriage, because he is still a bishop. And if he does this, he already knows what will come next. But I’m not entering into judgment and condemnation. This morbidness tastes very bad to me and that doesn’t help those who have faith.”

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Novell as bishop on Aug. 23.

Shortly after, it was learned that the resignation had been motivated by the relationship between the bishop emeritus of Solsona and Silvia Caballol, 38, a divorced mother of two children from her previous marriage. In addition, the woman is the author of erotic novels with satanic overtones.

On Sept. 6, the Diocese of Solsona published a statement saying that “the diocesan Church, in communion with its apostolic administrator, Bishop Romà Casanova, continues to pray for the Bishop with all hope placed in the Lord.”

On Oct. 7, the Civil Registry of Suria, as required by regulations, published the intention of Novell and Caballol to marry so that all persons who may know of “any legal impediment” to the celebration of the marriage make it known “in writing or orally to the court within a period of 15 days.”

Subsequently, Spanish media reported that Silvia Caballol may be pregnant with twins.

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.

Upon Novell’s resignation, Bishop Romà Casanova Casanova of Vic was appointed apostolic administrator of Solsona. 

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