Spanish bishop quits church after falling in love with writer of Satanic erotica

By James Badcock

A Spanish bishop known for performing exorcisms has resigned after reportedly falling in love with an author of satanic-themed erotic fiction, giving rise to fears among his former colleagues that he has been possessed by the devil.

The Right Rev Xavier Novell (52) who became Spain’s youngest bishop when consecrated in 2010, resigned last month, with church authorities in Solsona, Catalonia, citing “personal reasons” for his decision.

But sources quoted by the Catholic publication Religion Digital this week confirmed rumours that Bishop Novell had embarked on a relationship with Silvia Caballol, a psychologist and writer of erotic novels, leading him to set aside his vow of celibacy.

He said he had “fallen in love” and “wanted to do the right thing”, according to reports, in reference to the relationship with the 38-year-old author of The Hell of Gabriel’s Lust and the erotic trilogy Amnesia.

Ms Caballol, a divorcee, is described by her publisher as a “dynamic and transgressive author [who] turns upside down our ideas of morality and ethics”. In Amnesia, the author asks prophetically: “What happens when attraction is stronger than any code of ethics or social pressure?”

Church colleagues told Spanish media they believed Bishop Novell had been possessed by demons, with one saying this was “not a problem of celibacy but rather of infestation”.

The same sources claimed that Pope Francis had urged Bishop Novell to undergo an exorcism to free his troubled spirit, but the bishop had refused to do so.

Bishop Novell had himself practised exorcisms for several years. His desire to study demonology apparently led him to meet and become close to Ms Caballol, an expert in satanism.

He had also come under fire for his strong support for and participation in so-called conversion therapy, aimed at “curing” gay people of their supposedly deviant sexuality.

Spain’s Catholic hierarchy criticised such events, but Bishop Novell was among a minority of priests who resisted and continued to organise conversion programmes.

He has also been an outspoken supporter of independence for Catalonia, posting a photograph of himself to social media voting in the 2017 separatist referendum.

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