FORT WORTH, Texas (LifeSiteNews) –– Bishop Michael Olson has released a video statement on his actions regarding the Carmelite monastery in Arlington, denying that he overstepped his authority and stating that Mother Teresa Agnes has five times made an admission of sexual sin.
The bishop’s statement was longer than his previous interventions on the complicated and fast-moving situation over the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity, which has emerged to the public view in the past number of weeks.
He warned that he refused to be drawn into discussing the issue on any other platform, such as the “inappropriate venues of civil court, and also in both social media and the mainstream media.” Attacking the media coverage of his recent involvement with the Carmelite monastery, Olson stated that the news reports have “asserted baseless and false claims into the public mind, causing confusion among you, the faithful.”
Olson stated that he “felt the need” to issue the video statement, saying that the “matter” of the Carmelite monastery is “causing all of us much pain, confusion and heartache.” Citing his own “love” for the sisters and long acquaintance with them, Olson stated that the events of recent weeks also had “hurt me deeply.”
Bp. Olson: Mother Teresa Agnes admitted ‘five times’ to sexual sin
As of June 1, Olson dismissed Mother Teresa Agnes from the Carmelite order, stating that his 6-week investigation had deemed her to be guilty of violating the sixth commandment with a publicly unnamed priest. Mother Teresa is currently appealing the decision with the Vatican.
In his new video, the bishop announced that he was told “in April” that Mother Teresa had admitted “that she had broken her vow of chastity with a priest,” making these admissions to her full-time carer in the monastery Sr. Francis Therese, as well as to the diocesan Vicar General Father Jonathan Wallis.
According to Olson’s video, “Mother Teresa Agnes described the transgression as ‘consensual.’” He added that the Mother “voluntarily made these admissions on four different days,” stating that she did so with “clarity and consistency,” but did so without naming the priest. All of the four admissions Olson reported Mother as making took place “outside the sacrament of Confession,” he stated.
Olson’s investigation into the monastery began April 24, and the nuns’ lawyer asserts that he gave the community 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.
In his video, Olson stated during that meeting Mother Teresa “admitted for the fifth time, with clarity and freely, that she had broken her vow of chastity with a priest.” She reportedly informed Olson of the name of the priest during this meeting.
One of the points raised by the nuns’ lawyers in the subsequent civil suit lodged against the bishop and the diocese, was that Mother Teresa was under the influence of medication during that April 24 meeting, prior to undergoing a procedure the next day. Olson downplayed this suggestion in his video, 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.”
He expanded on this, saying that “claims to the contrary are false, and baseless and untrue.”
General denial of lawyer’s claims
Speculation had been made that Olson’s move against the Carmelite convent was rooted in financial motives, with an eye on acquiring the nuns’ donor list or perhaps even the monastery grounds themselves – grounds which are valued at over $20 million.
But this also Olson specifically denied, stating:
The donor list, the property, and all of the assets of the Carmelite monastery belong to the monastery, and are there for the care and sustenance of the Carmelite community of nuns and for their religious mission. Neither I, nor the Diocese of Fort Worth have ever made, nor do we now make any claims or designs to the contrary.
“This includes,” continued Olson, “their electronic and cellular telephone, that are the property of the monastery and not of any of the individuals nuns who are voluntarily bound to the vow of poverty.”
The nuns’ lawyer, Matthew Bobo, has stated that during his April 24 visit, Olson was “summarily demanding that the Reverend Mother turn over her computer, iPad, and cellular phone, to him personally.” These he later returned to the convent, though Bobo states that copies of the data on the devices had been made.
Olson denied this also, saying that the devices were “requested calmly and given freely by Mother Teresa Agnes.” He also rejected the argument that he or the diocese was “spying” on the nuns’ communications – something which Bobo has argued in his suit, citing evidence that the bishop was somehow aware of the nuns’ purchase and use of another telephone the day after he removed their electronic devices in April.
One of the peculiar aspects in the entire case is the element of the unnamed priest with whom Mother Teresa is alleged to have broken her vow of chastity with. No details have been forthcoming about his identity, and when asked previously by LifeSiteNews, the Diocese of Fort Worth stated that it could not expand on the details already provided.
This was addressed by Olson in his video, as he argued that neither he nor his diocese had covered up the “alleged wrongdoing of the priest.” One of Olson’s diocesan officials reportedly “contacted the diocese where the priest was ministering” as well as his superior – in an interesting use of language suggesting that the priest allegedly involved might not be a diocesan priest, but belong to an order or institute.
Olson stated that he himself spoke to “the immediate superior of the priest, the bishop where he was ministering, and subsequently to the priest’s own bishop.” The priest’s “immediate superior” told Olson that the priest “refused to either confirm or deny his alleged involvement” on the advice of his canonical counsel.
According to the priest’s bishop, Olson stated that the still unnamed priest is not assigned and has been restricted in his faculties.
Monastery drug fest?
On June 7, Bobo declared via a statement that the Arlington Police Department was investigating the diocese’s actions against the Carmelite Monastery. LifeSite then discovered from the police that officers had a received a letter from a local law firm – not Bobo’s – with allegations about the Monastery investigation. This matter, the police stated they were investigating as part of normal protocol upon receipt of such allegations.
The diocese then responded by calling Bobo’s statement “another transparent attempt to spread baseless and outrageous accusations regarding Bishop Olson’s legitimate investigation of the Carmelite Monastery.”
Furthermore, the diocese then stated that it had contacted the police “regarding serious concerns it has regarding the use of marijuana and edibles at the monastery, along with other issues that the Diocese will address at another time and in a proper forum.”
This striking claim was re-issued in Olson’s video, as he sated that “individuals who are closely associated with the monastery” came to the diocese with both “information and evidence about illegal drug activity.” Such “evidence” was immediately turned over to the Arlington Police, stated Olson.
Nuns’ lawyer responds
Following Olson’s video, Attorney Bobo described it as the bishop having “renewed his egregious attack” upon the whole community. “The fact that this Shepherd and Pastor of the flock of 1 million Catholics in Forth Worth feels obligated to defame the Reverend Mother publicly yet again with alleged sins that she confessed to another priest—but not in the sacrament of Penance he alleges—is beyond [the] pale,” he stated.
Bobo accused Wallis of having “have breached the trust and confidences of a female religious.”
He further decried the accusations of drugs in the monastery as “preposterous,” and called on Olson to release information about the “alleged sin” which Mother Teresa is reported to have committed.
Both Olson and Bobo called for prayers for a peaceful conclusion to the matter. Meanwhile, Mother Teresa is appealing her dismissal from the Carmelites with the Vatican, and the nuns’ civil lawsuit is still underway in a case which has blown into a matter of significant proportions in an incredibly short space of time.