It’s just after nine in the morning and Carme goes in and out of Solsona Cathedral carrying plants and flowers. “I am not from the bishopric, there until tomorrow you will not find anyone,” he is quick to make clear. Bishop Xavier Novell’s resignation does not take long to appear. “He has put Solsona on the map, but for the worse,” he ditch.
Xavier Novell promoted and underwent ‘conversion therapy’ for homosexuals
A week has passed since Religión Digital revealed that the “strictly personal reasons” adduced by the bishopric to explain Novell’s resignation were the sentimental relationship that the prelate maintains with a young writer from the region. He is by no means the first religious to hang his cassock out of love, but he is exceptional among bishops. Even more so if the trajectory of Novell is taken into account, marked by his ultra-conservatism, his rejection of the use of condoms and his defense of ‘conversion’ therapies for homosexuality.
Among the parishioners are mixed doubts due to the lack of explanations from the ex-bishop, the desire to open a new stage but also a certain feeling of mercy towards Novell’s personal situation. All the faithful who want to speak (there is no shortage of those who decline to be interviewed and confess “fed up with the circus that the press has set up”) agree that the silence of both Novell himself and the bishopric does not help digestion.
“It would not be at all bad for the new bishop to be close and open. He must be human, come on,” says Àngela Ribera at the end of eleven mass. Ribera and the other parishioners continue to assimilate the scandal that has brought this small city of 13,000 inhabitants to the pages of the international press.
Isidre Angrill and his wife Carme, who were neighbors of Novell, also require a different spirit from the future bishop. “It must be more human, less divine,” sums up the also president of the Sardanista group in Solsona. “The word ‘shepherd’ is not just because, the shepherd must be with his flock, have coffee with them, talk ….”. He tells an anecdote once that in an informal chat he gave Novell a tutelage and the latter urged him to return to ‘you’, remembering that he was “his bishop” and showing him his ring.
“Novell treated the young people of the town very badly”
In the memory of this couple of parishioners is Bishop Deig, who held the position between 1990 and 2001 and was still loved and remembered in Solsona. She was Novell’s nemesis. “We are in a rural diocese, we all know each other, you can have a way of thinking, but you have to listen and speak,” Angrill continues, to which his wife, more directly, points out: “Other priests in the diocese are older but much less carcas. ”
It is precisely those who have raised their voices the most in this rural diocese and small county capitals where 70% of the parishes do not exceed 300 inhabitants are the veteran parish priests, many of them facing Novell for his ultra-conservativeism. These are clerics linked to the progressivism introduced by the Second Vatican Council, theses opposed to those defended by Novell despite the fact that in 2010, when he took office, he became the youngest bishop in Spain. “At the very least, he should have met with the priests because officially we still do not know anything,” lamented this week ‘mossèn’ Fermí Manteca in statements to the ACN.
In the bars near the cathedral there is a desire for vermouth and for the tranquility to return to Solsona. “I am a believer but not very practicing, although here we all knew him”, explains Roser, who takes the issue away: “Let’s see if he is going to be the first priest to leave him for some skirts.” His partner, Maria Lourdes, asks for a new bishop “more like the ones before, to listen, not to go to his.” “Novell treated the young people of the town very badly,” said Regina Sánchez from the next table.
In the Sunday conversations after the mass in the cathedral, the most controversial pages of Novell’s biography do not take long to appear. although not everything has to be a ‘viva la vida’ “, says Isidre Cols, who declares himself” very sad “about the situation.
Maria and Maria Claustre share sadness. “Everything is rumors, nobody knows anything, and it hurts me because I think he is suffering,” says the first, to which her friend adds: “We have compassion for him.” Isidre Angrill is also clear: “Until he speaks we will not know anything, but we must not forget that he is surely having a very bad time”.
This Sunday Novell is still not speaking. Neither does the bishopric, which in the parish sheet this week has again included the statement in which it indicates that the resignation of the bishop emeritus is due to “strictly personal reasons.” In his letter to the faithful, which is entitled “Let’s walk together”, the Bishop of Vic and Apostolic Administrator of Solsona, Romà Casanova, asks “to continue together on the multi-secular ecclesial journey, knowing that Jesus does not stop accompanying us even though we sometimes have the cloudy eyes, like the disciples of Emmaus. ” Veiled reference to the Novell episode?
“What is being said is a catastrophe for him, his family and the entire diocese,” concedes the rector of Solsona, Lluís Ruíz, on his way to the episcopal palace. He insists over and over that it is Novell who must explain his reasons for leaving the miter because only he knows them. During the mass, ‘mossèn’ Ruiz asked the parishioners to pray for the new bishop, yet to arrive.