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FORT WORTH, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — In a stunning move, Bishop Michael Olson of Texas has unilaterally moved to dismiss a Carmelite nun from the entire religious order, claiming that he found her guilty of violating the sixth commandment with an unnamed priest.

In a statement issued June 1, the Diocese of Fort Worth announced that Bishop Michael Olson had deemed Mother Teresa Agnes (Gerlach) of the Monastery of Saint Joseph of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns, to have violated her vows of chastity. 

The statement reads:

Upon conclusion of an investigation initiated on April 24, 2023, the Most Reverend Michael F. Olson, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth and Pontifical Commissary of the Monastery in Arlington, Texas, found the Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes (Gerlach) of Jesus Crucified, O.C.D. (née Lisa Marie Gerlach), Prioress of the Monastery, guilty of having violated the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and her vow of chastity with a priest from outside the Diocese of Fort Worth.

“Therefore,” it continued, “as Pontifical Commissary of the Monastery in Arlington, Texas, and as the Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Bishop Olson dismissed Mother Teresa Agnes from the Order of Discalced Carmelites in accord with cann. 695 §1 and 699 §2 CIC. She has thirty days to appeal this decision to the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of the Apostolic Life.”

The stunning move comes just over 24 hours after the diocese announced on May 31 that Olson had been deemed the “Pontifical Commissary” by the Vatican in the case surrounding the Carmelite monastery. That decree, which came from the Congregation (Dicastery) for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of the Apostolic Life (CICLSAL), was signed by the dicastery’s secretary Archbishop Jose Carballo, (rather than its prefect,) and appointed Olson as the “Pontifical Commissary” of the Monastery of Saint Joseph of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns.

READ: Vatican sides with Texas bishop who stripped Carmelite convent of sacraments

The decree also stated that Olson has, regarding the monastery, “full governing powers and with the faculty to appoint, if necessary, the nuns to assume the role of overseer of the community members.”

However, even that decree from the Vatican was riddled with issues, as noted by the nuns’ civil attorney, who highlighted three issues which, he argued, could even render the document invalid.

The Vatican’s decree was signed May 31, and retroactively approved all of Olson’s actions against the convent – actions which the nuns have described in a civil suit as being both canonically and civilly illegal, as well as “unholy, unwarranted” and “pure evil.”

Reacting to the bishop’s dismissal, Matthew Bobo – the nuns’ lawyer – called the move “absolutely unjust and unconscionable in the light of moral, canonical and natural law.”

“Mother Superior will be appealing this immoral and unjust decision that is not subject to canonical action. In addition, the civil lawsuit will continue full speed ahead,” he stated. “During this month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we ask for all the lay faithful to pray for reparation to our Lord’s pierced heart for the Reverend Mother Teresa of Jesus Crucified. Her sufferings as a true scapegoat will be lifted up by Our crucified and risen Lord!”

Back left: Sister Joseph Marie. Front left: Mother Anne Teresa. Front right: Mother Teresa Agnes. Back right: Sister Francis Therese.

Under what canonical grounds?

With this sudden development and two short statements, Bishop Olson has moved to dismiss a Carmelite nun of over 30 years, and the Prioress of the Monastery, in less than six weeks.

He cited Canons 695 §1 and 699 §2 in doing so: canons which have been amended by Pope Francis in recent years. 

Canon 695 §1 now states that a member of a religious institute “must be dismissed for the delicts mentioned in cann. 1397, 1398, and 1395, unless in the delicts mentioned in can. 1395, §2, the superior decides that dismissal is not completely necessary and that correction of the member, restitution of justice, and reparation of scandal can be resolved sufficiently in another way.” 

The relevant of those three canons mentioned would be 1395 and 1398. Canon 1396 deals with the issue of a “cleric,” who may be “eventually…dismissed from the clerical state” if he persists in a sin against the sixth commandment – “which causes scandal” – in defiance of many warnings.  

Canon 1398 §2 deals with any member of “a religious institute of consecrated life or of a society of apostolic life, or a member of the faithful who enjoys a dignity or performs an office or function in the Church who commits an offence” against a minor or against a person with “imperfect use of reason,” or who uses their authority to force someone into a sexual sin. In these cases, the reformed Canon Law states that such an individual is to be punished according to Canon 1336 §2-4. 

These penalties range from orders to remain in a certain place, a ban on exercising one’s office, the “deprivation” of all or some offices, or the dismissal from the clerical state.

Mother Teresa is not technically a cleric, and thus Olson must be acting against her under the conditions of Canon 1398 §2, and 1336 §2-4.

But acting in such speed does not suggest that a thorough or balanced investigation took place, given that less than six weeks have passed from its start to the conclusion – and a conclusion which has resulted in the startling and rare occurrence of dismissal from a religious order. 

Such a conclusion to an incredibly brief “investigation” also comes in the face of the numerous canonical irregularities regarding the Vatican’s document approving of Olson’s actions – irregularities which the nuns’ lawyer highlighted a little over 24 hours ago when the document was released.

READ: Abp. Viganò: Canceled Benedictine nuns are ‘victims of the ideological fury of the Bergoglians’

However, Olson has the backing of the CICLSAL, and specifically the CICLSAL’s secretary Archbishop Jose Carballo, who has a record of moving to quash traditional or cloistered communities.

As highlighted by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Carballo acted similarly when moving to crush the traditional Benedictine convent of Pienza in recent months. Two of his decrees, issued in January 2023, bore the date of 2014 and 2017 respectively – an issue which Carballo repeated in his May 31 decree to Olson, which was dated 2020.

Carballo, Viganò argues – drawing on his own experience in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and then the Diplomatic Corps – is chiefly responsible for the “financial collapse of the Order of Friars Minor Franciscans” as well as having played a key role in the “persecution” of the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Investigation begun

Bishop Olson instigated his investigation on April 24, when he gave the nuns thirty minutes notice before arriving at the convent, where he “demanded” to question Mother Teresa Agnes and her full-time care provider, Sr. Francis Therese. Mother Teresa uses a catheter, feeding tube, and an intravenous drip for 10 hours a day.

Stipulating where Mother Teresa was to “eat, sit, talk to, whether she can use technology and whether and when she could leave the monastery,” Olson added a warning of her dismissal from the monastery if she attempted to make a phone call without prior approval from an “administrator.” Technological items, such as her phone and iPad, were removed by the diocese.

The April 24 interrogation of Mother Teresa was reportedly conducted while she was under the influence of high-dosage medication, prior to undergoing a medical procedure the very next day.

Mother Teresa Agnes. Credit: Twitter

Following his sudden inquisition at the monastery, the nuns sought civil, legal counsel and then informed the bishop that he was welcome to question the remainder of the community but only if he informed the nuns what the meeting was about. At this, Olson reportedly “threw a juvenile and unseemly temper tantrum, in an agitated and raised voice claimed that the Monastery was shut down and no Mass would be offered for the Sisters or the parishioners, slammed the door and left the Monastery.”

READ: Carmelite nuns suing Fort Worth bishop for ‘illegal, unholy assault’ on their community

The nuns filed their suit against the bishop on May 3, and Olson responded by making the groundbreaking move of publicly announcing on May 16 that Mother Agnes had been accused of committing “sins against the Sixth Commandment” with a priest.

As revealed by their lawyer, Mathew Bobo, in a statement May 30, Olson told the Carmelites in the past few days that their lawsuit had “incited hatred and animosity against me because of my initiation of the investigation.” As a result, the bishop moved to prohibit any provision of Mass or Confession at the monastery, saying the two sacraments “cannot be conveniently provided” at this time. 

READ: Texas bishop restricts sacraments at Carmelite convent after nuns sued him for ‘abuse’ of power

Such a move also directly affected the faithful who attend Mass at the convent.

While announcing the Mass restrictions, Olson repeated in the public sphere the allegation regarding Mother Teresa’s alleged sin against the sixth commandment – a sin which the nun of 30 years is alleged to have committed with an unnamed priest from outside of the diocese. 

When questioned previously by LifeSiteNews, the diocese did not respond to its request for any details about the alleged instances of sexual sins, nor how they were supposed to have taken place between a cloistered nun and a priest from a different diocese. As yet, no further details regarding the unnamed priest have emerged.

The diocese restated on June 1 that it was unable to expand on the statements which have been issued online.

Mass reinstated

In a separate statement also on June 1, Olson announced that due to the passage of time, and having completed the investigation into Mother Teresa’s much alluded to, but never defined, “grave misconduct” – resulting in her dismissal from the Carmelites – Masses would be reinstated as of June 7. 

However, due to the nuns “pending lawsuit,” Olson stipulated that the lay faithful would still be penalized as “Mass will remain closed to the participation of the lay faithful for the time being.”

“The only Mass intention will be for the restoration of peace and good order of the Monastery,” he stated. “In addition, Bishop Olson is in the process of arranging regular Confessions for the nuns. Please pray for the sisters of the Monastery and for Bishop Olson.”