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Bishop Olson and Mother Teresa AgnesCourtesy photo/Diocese of Fort Worth

ARLINGTON, Texas (LifeSiteNews) –– The Vatican has intervened once more in the case of a traditional convent in Texas which shot to international fame after a months-long conflict between the nuns and the local bishop, which ultimately led to his removing the mother superior and the convent rejecting his authority. 

On April 18, Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, issued a letter to the diocese announcing the formal entrustment of the Carmelite Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity to its overarching Carmelite body – namely, the Association of Christ the King in the United States of America.

With the formal entrustment coming from the Vatican’s Congregation (now Dicastery) for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL), Olson stated that the association had directly petitioned the Vatican for this outcome, and had done so with Olson’s “counsel and full support.”

“The petition was made to help restore the Arlington Carmel to good health and unity with the local and universal Church, and to provide effective leadership and needed assistance to the nuns from within the Carmelite Order,” he wrote.

Since May 31 last year, Olson had been serving as the Pontifical Commissary to the Carmelite convent, meaning that he had – under direct decree from the Vatican – “full governing powers” over the community. According to the Vatican, Mother Marie of the Incarnation – the president of the U.S. Association of Christ the King – will now become the “lawful superior” of the Arlington Carmel. 

Informing the Arlington Carmel of the unilateral decision, CICLSAL stated that Mother Marie had requested the entrustment from the Vatican on March 12, along with the “unanimous support of the member monasteries,” excluding the Arlington Carmel. 

CICLSAL’s decree was signed by its secretary and under-secretary – two female religious – though not by the cardinal prefect. The two religious cited Pope Francis’ texts on religious life – Vultum Dei and Cor Orans – in issuing their decree: the latter especially which has been described as a “cruel and merciless” assault against contemplative orders.


The Arlington Carmel responded April 20 by stating that both Olson and the Vatican had made no “dialogue” with the nuns about the entrustment and the publication of the decree.

“The ‘request’ of the Carmelite Association of Christ the King (USA) to take over the governance of our monastery, made with the ‘counsel and full support’ of Bishop Olson, which Rome has accepted without our knowledge or consent, is in effect a hostile takeover that we cannot in conscience accept,” read the statement from the Carmel. 

The Carmel added that accepting the decision “would risk the integrity of our monastery as a community, threatening the vocations of individual nuns, our liturgical and spiritual life and the material assets of the monastery. This outside authority could easily disperse us, impose its agenda in respect of our daily observance and dispose of our assets—even of the monastery itself—as it wishes, contrary to our vows and to the intentions of those who founded our community and our benefactors.”

Consequently, they declined to admit Mother Marie or “any delegate of hers” at the current time.

In an unusual move, CICLSAL wrote to the Arlington Carmel stating that since the term of office of the prioress, sub prioress and councillors had “expired” on January 14, and that since Olson had not been contacted to arrange supervision over elections for new superiors, the Vatican had decided that the Carmel has a “total absence of lawful governance.” 

The Arlington Carmel replied that such a “technical” element “can be solved in any number of other ways—including by Rome’s extension of such terms of office for a suitable period while the issues at hand are addressed equitably.” They added that such a change should not take place while an appeal is underway, thus referencing their 2023 appeal to the Vatican which has gone unanswered.

The Vatican’s installation of Mother Marie comes 11 months after the convoluted and fast-paced conflict between the Arlington Carmel and Bishop Olson became public. Culminating a process of many months, in August the nuns wrote they “no longer recognize the authority” of Olson, citing the “unprecedented interference, intimidation, aggression, private and public humiliation and spiritual manipulation as the direct result of the attitudes and ambitions of the current Bishop of Fort Worth in respect of our Reverend Mother Prioress, ourselves and of our property.”

READ: Texas Carmelites ‘no longer recognize authority’ of Fort Worth bishop, warned of excommunication

The Vatican has now demanded that the Carmel “regularize” their relationship with Olson by withdrawing the August statement. The Carmel wrote April 20 that while they recognize the legitimacy of Pope Francis and Bishop Olson, they still “withdraw our cooperation in respect of the unjust exercise of any authority over us by the current Bishop of Fort Worth.”


As LifeSiteNews has extensively reported, the Carmelite monastery and its former prioress, Mother Teresa Gerlach, have been at the center of a dispute with Olson since late April 2023, owing to his investigation into, and unannounced visitation upon, the convent.

The case became increasingly public and involved. The nuns filed a civil suit against Olson, due to what was described as his “illegal, unholy, unwarranted, explicit, and systematic assault upon the sanctity and autonomy of the Plaintiff’s and the Sisters.”

On May 16, Olson retaliated and made the striking move of revealing to the public that he had “received a report in April 2023” that Mother Teresa had “committed sins against the Sixth Commandment and violated her vow of chastity with a priest from outside the Diocese of Fort Worth.”

One day after being appointed as Pontifical Commissary, on June 1 Olson dismissed Mother Teresa from the Carmelite order, stating that his six-week investigation had deemed her to be guilty of violating the Sixth Commandment with the priest, who was at that time un-named. She was given 30 days to appeal the decision with the Vatican, an option of which she availed herself.

No information has emerged about the result of her appeal or the nuns’ own petition to the Vatican in the wake of Olson’s restrictions against them last spring – an absence which the Arlington Carmel described as “perplexing.”

On June 30, 2023, a Texas district court judge dismissed the nuns’ suit “for want of subject-matter jurisdiction,” adding that it was “a private Church matter that does not belong in the courts.”

READ: Vatican all but wipes out conservative order of nuns for ‘too much prayer’

As part of the proceedings, the court heard an audio recording from Olson’s April 24 meeting with Mother Teresa, during which she appeared to admit to having committed some sexual sin with a priest. Olson’s vicar general, Father Jonathan Wallis, testified that Mother Teresa had told him about certain such actions, as part of private meetings they had in December 2022 and January 2023 – meetings during which the Arlington nuns have stated that Mother Teresa was under the influence of strong medication for medical procedures and also recovering from a health crisis.

As noted in court documents, Mother Teresa requires a full-time caregiver, since she has to use a catheter, feeding tube, and an intravenous drip for multiple hours a day.

Part of Mother Teresa’s civil defense included testimony that her April 24 statements were also influenced by strong medication which she was taking prior to a procedure the next day. Olson downplayed this suggestion in a mid-June video statement, saying she was “not under the influence of anesthesia, she was clear and lucid and had normal use of her physical and mental faculties at that time.”


Much speculation has been raised regarding the bishop’s actions towards the Carmel, with the argument made that it was fueled by a desire to clamp down on yet another monastic community which had developed a love for the Church’s traditional liturgy and sacraments, or that it was fueled by some desire to gain control over the Carmel’s estate. Olson has explicitly rejected the latter suggestion. 

In August, the nuns already attested that they have indeed become devoted to the ancient liturgy, or the Latin Mass, and that henceforth they would only use the traditional Carmelite use of the Roman rite. 

This they confirmed in their April 20 statement: 

Even amidst the dark shadows of the Cross that have been cast over our monastery over the past year, a light has shone giving us hope and strength: the radiant light of our further and deeper immersion in the riches of the usus antiquior (the Traditional Latin Mass and Divine Office, etc). This is something which we, as a community, have desired for many, many years now and which we had begun to explore some time ago, but that in the end the Bishop opposed.

The entirety of the case has been marked by somewhat unprecedented moves from Olson, particularly with regard the public revelation of details surrounding his private meeting with Mother Teresa, along with an incredibly speedy expulsion of her from the order.

READ: ‘They are profiting from the closure of the monastery’: Rome suppresses Carmel in Philadelphia

Observers have suggested that the official reasons given bely hidden intentions on the part of Olson or CICLSAL, especially given their citation of Vultum Dei and Cor Orans – documents which have been used to suppress blossoming traditional communities. 

Alluding to apparently hidden agendas, the Arlington Carmel’s April 20 statement noted that while they “welcome in a spirit of humility Visitators whose integrity and impartiality we recognize and accept, to receive their fraternal advice with respectful docility and to consider their recommendations before God,” they would not accept those “who arrive with a pre-determined agenda, as has been seen too often in recent years.”