Last Monday, the news fell like a bomb in the Bishopric of Solsona. Its holder, Xavier Novell, one of the media stars of the Catalan episcopate, was leaving his post after having asked “freely” for his resignation after a process of discernment and “for strictly personal reasons.” Few knew of the request he had made to the Pope and many were surprised by the speed with which the pontiff accepted his resignation.
Novell, (Montfalcó de Ossó, Lleida, 1969) became the youngest bishop in Spain in 2010, and was one of the prelates with the greatest future, on paper, in our country. But the arrival of Francisco and a series of controversial decisions earned him the opposition of the progressive sectors of the Church – for his defense of homosexual conversion therapies, for considering abortion or euthanasia as “genocide” or for opposing marriage. egalitarian – and also from some conservative sectors, for their support for the Catalan independence cause.
Before entering the priesthood, Novell graduated in Agricultural Technical Engineering from the University of Lleida. He was ordained a priest in 1997 and received a doctorate in Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He made his entire ecclesiastical career in Solsona, where he was appointed bishop by the Pope a decade ago, at the age of 41.
In fact, after his dismissal, the few favorable reactions to Novell came from two of the prisoners sentenced by 1-O, Josep Rull and Jordi Turull, who thanked the already former bishop of Solsona for his visits to Lledoners and his spiritual accompaniment. In fact, Novell – the only Catalan prelate who was photographed voting during the independence referendum and who had asked to vote for a Christian Democratic party that defended the Catalan cause and that was not ERC or the PSC – was prohibited by the Nuncio from expressing himself in public or privately about the Catalan situation. Something that, they point out in his environment, ended up breaking the prelate psychologically.
“A psychologically unstable man”
But why is Novell leaving? “He has simply gotten tired of being a bishop, of not being able to be free,” one of his collaborators told elDiario.es. “He is a difficult man, psychologically unstable,” says one of Solsona’s priests. The answers to the acceptance of his resignation by the Pope are very few, in part due to the total absence of explanations on the part of the hierarchy, which has left the ground fertile for the different theories, from the economic question to problems of skirts . However, everything seems to be due, simply, to a “I can not more” of the bishop.
Some have even accused Cardinal Omella of having planned his dismissal due to their differences on nationalist matters. Official sources assure elDiario.es that this thesis is “radically false”, and the archbishop of Barcelona and president of the Episcopal Conference – one of the few who knew about Novell’s decision – has made all the psychological and material help available to them. and staff that the prelate needs until he decides what to do in the future. That is the other question: Will he continue to be a bishop? Will you go on missions? Will it be secularized?
Courses to “stop being gay”
One of the theses that proliferates the most these days is that of a report, reached the highest levels of the Vatican, in which several Spanish bishops are accused, including Novell, of actively participating in groups that defend the therapies of gay conversion, grouped around the Truth and Freedom association, which operates in Granada with the consent (some sources say) of its archbishop, Javier Martínez.
“I am one of the victims of these therapies”, affirms Pau (fictitious name), a young Catalan who accuses Novell and other bishops – Munilla, Arturo Ros (auxiliary of Valencia) or Cardinal Cañizares himself – of openly defending the “meetings “in which young people are encouraged to” discover their true sexuality. ” “They assure you that it is possible to ‘stop being gay’, crazy,” says this boy, who assures that in the Solsona seminary there are two aspiring priests “who did the therapy, accompanied by Novell.”
This controversy, which came to light after elDiario.es uncovered the “sexual reconversion” practices carried out in Alcalá de Henares with the approval of its bishop, Juan Antonio Reig, was debated by the Episcopal Conference in November 2019. At that time, a majority of bishops were against these false therapies, but the entry of a group of LGTBI youth in the cathedral of Alcalá de Henares (what was called as ‘escrache’ by the spokesman of the CEE , Luis Argüello), made the ultra-conservative sector of the Episcopate force to take sides in defense of the bishop in the face of the “attacks” received. Novell was one of the most belligerent of that group.
In fact, last June, the already emeritus bishop of Solsona went to a parish in Torrent (Valencia) for a meeting promoting “therapies” to “cure” homosexuality. According to one of those present at those meetings, “with the help of several Valencian priests, the Neocatechumenal Way and Opus Dei.” This person, who prefers not to reveal his identity, assures that “Novell has welcomed in his house of the bishopric young people who are in this process, and not only that: a year and a half ago he moved to Madrid to celebrate the wedding with a girl of one of the young men who had undergone these ‘treatments’, without the support or consent of the local priest or the bride’s parents “.
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