Pope Francis accepted this Monday (23) the resignation of the bishop of Solsona, Spain, Xavier Novell Gomà, 52, and appointed an apostolic administrator for the ‘sede vacante’, Romà Casanova Casanova, who is currently bishop of Vic.
According to the official note of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, the resignation was made “for strictly personal reasons” and Novell “made the decision after a period of reflection, discernment and prayer, at the end of which he spontaneously presented his own to the Holy Father. situation and the resignation of the pastoral government of the Diocese of Solsona”.
Over the past few years, Novell has gone from being Spain’s youngest bishop – after nomination by Pope Benedict at the age of 41 – to a cleric known for his anti-gay stance and political involvement in Catalonia’s quest for independence.
In May 2017, the city council of Cervera, practically neighboring Solsona, declared the religious as “persona non grata” shortly after he declared that “homosexuality can be related to an absent and distant father figure”.
Already on May 28 this year, the bishop had to leave the church of Santa Maria de Alba, in Tàrrega, escorted by Mossos d’Esquadra, local police and some parishioners after some LGBTQIA+ activists called a demonstration against him. On account of the phrases, the communal councils of the city and of Mollerussa, which are part of the diocese he headed, rejected formal visits from Novell.
The next day, the mayor of Solsona, David Rodríguez, said that the priest’s statements were “unfortunate” and that he was talking to him for a correction.
On June 1, the bishop apologized “to parents of homosexuals who felt bad about the statements,” saying he didn’t want to offend anyone. But, in the same note, he said it was “to fearlessly continue to present the Christian view of people and the moral consequences that flow from it.”
Novell also caused confusion for its political position in Catalonia. In particular, in September 2013, before the demonstrations to hold an independence plebiscite, he advised parish priests not to “participate” in the protests, which would take place on September 11th.
In an article published shortly before the demonstration, which ended up drawing thousands of people, the Diocese of Solsona issued a note – without Novell’s signature – saying that the Catalans had the right to vote and demonstrate, ensuring that Catalonia “satisfies the elements of the Church’s social doctrine that indicate the reality of a nation: culture, language and history”.
Two years later, on September 27, 2015, Novell published an article in which he openly demonstrated support for Catalan independence. .