Texas Catholic bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth threatens to excommunicate nuns of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity for publishing a statement challenging his authority and banning him from setting foot on monastery grounds.
Bishop Olson’s threat was instigated by an August 18 statement posted to the website of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity. In the release, the nuns stated that their “filial trust has been abused by the personal and public behaviors of a man who, in the pursuit of his unspecified personal ends, does not fear to shout at nuns or to humiliate them in private and in public when they protest that their rights have been ignored, who does not hesitate to violate their sacred enclosure through his officials, and whose actions in respect of personal property and privacy are more than seriously questionable.”
The nuns also added that In order to “protect the integrity of our monastic life and vocation” against “continued abuse, “We no longer recognize the authority of, and can have no further relations with, the current Bishop of Fort Worth or his officials, and forbid him or any of his officials or representatives to enter our monastery property or to have any contact or relations with the monastery or any of its nuns or novices.”
The nun’s statement however resulted from the Fort Worth bishop accusing one of the nuns of violating her vow of chastity earlier this year.
Rev. Mother Superior Teresa Gerlach was fired from the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington in June as a result of her alleged confession to the bishop that she was having an affair with a priest, which sparked a six-week investigation.
Following the claim, the sisters filed a lawsuit against Bishop Olson and the diocese in response to the allegation. They accused the Bishop of threatening, spying on, and defaming the orders.
However, in their released statement, the nuns denied the claim against their Mother Prioress, and accused Bishop Olson of “shouting and humiliating” them.
In response to the Nun’s release, the Bishop in an August 19 statement released by the Diocese of Forth worth that the nuns may face excommunication. He noted that the nuns’ public rejection of his authority “hurt” him and “cut a deep wound” in the unity of the Diocese of Fort Worth.
“It is with deep sorrow that I must inform the faithful of the Diocese of Fort Worth, that Mother Teresa Agnes, thereby, may have incurred upon herself latae sententiae,( i.e., by her own schismatic actions), excommunication,” the statement read.
“The other nuns, depending on their complicity in Mother Teresa Agnes’ publicly, scandalous and schismatic actions could possibly have incurred the same latae sententiae excommunication”
“The Arlington Carmel remains closed to public access until such time as the Arlington Carmel publicly disavows itself of these scandalous and schismatic actions of Mother Teresa Agnes,” it added.