For some, he was the handsome bishop. For others, the independence bishop, although initially it was not politically significant. Xavier Novell was personable in interviews, a kindness that allowed him to cover up a reactionary ideology. He was presented as “young, handsome, in the media and with a reputation for being a conservative and very doctrinal.” Past by the translator, conservative and very doctrinal, it actually meant homophobic, contrary to divorce and abortion, someone who did not like miniskirts at their masses.
In September 2013 he starred in one of the chapters of the program ‘El invidat’ [El invitado] from TV3. The journalist Albert Om spent two days at the Episcopal Palace of Solsona to interview what was the youngest bishop in Spain. We Catalans saw his room, austere, with a small bed and the photo on the table in which he appeared greeting Pope Benedict XVI. He assured that he cared “little” about what was said about him and, when asked by the journalist if that was good or bad, he replied that he thought it was good in the case of a bishop because he is someone who must act conscientiously. He argued that his purpose should not be to seek “the applause of the people” but to “fulfill the gospel.” It was defined as “authentic.” He had recently been wearing the ring and still hadn’t gotten used to it. You can see that, he explained, because he kept touching it while he spoke.
He acknowledged that some of his colleagues had advised him not to appear so much in the media, but he framed interviews and reports like that of TV3 in the need to be transparent. Church and transparency have never rhymed, not even in Novell’s life, no matter how much he claimed it at the time. He decided that he would be a priest when he was 20 years old. He claimed that he had never dated any girl, which does not mean that he did not have “human instincts.” I compared it to the husband who has temptations outside of marriage.
Since his arrival at the bishopric, the smallest of Catalonia, parishioners and parish priests were divided between the proNovell and the opponents, between those who shared his hard line and those who considered his conception of what “the heart of Christianity” should be too reactionary . A Christianity in which homosexuality had no place. He came to attribute it to the lack of a father figure. He argued that the more “radical” the Church was in its rejection of gay marriage, the easier it would be to attract new parishioners. He rejected the condom and did not admit any exceptions. He could not conceive of pleasure if it was not associated with fatherhood. No sex just to enjoy. Maybe now he has changed his mind.
He ended the interview by assuring that he did not want to stop doing anything that could be an obstacle in his ecclesiastical career. Among the things that are attributed to him in that career is the participation in courses of the so-called conversion therapies aimed at homosexual people. In the end, the “obstacle” appeared in his way in the form of a woman. He is neither the first nor will he be the last to hang up the habit for this reason. Nothing to say. His problem is not love but hate that he fostered for years. This is what is not acceptable, what should have been rejected by a part of the Church that looks the other way when it is reported on therapies that treat gay people as if they had a disease.