A Texas bishop has announced an ecclesiastical investigation into whether a nun broke her chastity vow.
The nun, and her Sisters, sued the bishop and the Fort Worth Diocese, alleging abuse of power.
The nuns’ attorney told Insider the bishop has ulterior motives and wants to take over the monastery.
A group of Texas nuns have sued a bishop and the Fort Worth Diocese in a dispute over an allegation that one of the nuns — who is seriously ill and uses a wheelchair and a feeding tube — broke her vow of chastity with a priest.
The Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Arlington have accused Bishop Michael Olson and the Fort Worth Diocese of waging an overzealous investigation into the alleged chastity vow violation, confiscating the nuns’ phones and personal devices, “spying” on their texts and even personally showing up at their monastery to spend hours interrogating the nuns.
In Catholicism, a chastity vow is a promise of celibacy made by nuns and priests. The Diocese publicly announced its investigation into the chastity vow violation in a May 16 statement naming the Reverend Mother Superior Teresa Agnes Gerlach.
The priest, who is accused of engaging in sexual acts with the woman, was not named.
The nuns’ attorney, Matthew Bobo, told Insider he believes that Olson and the Fort Worth Diocese have ulterior motives in levying such an allegation against Gerlach.
“They’re 72 acres in Arlington, Texas, on the Trinity River in the middle of the metroplex,” Bobo said, adding that’s what he believes the bishop has his eyes on. “It’s worth $20 million or so. That’s what he’s trying to do.”
Bobo added that the chastity vow accusation is “insulting,” and said the nun in question has likely only encountered four or five men in the last 25 years.
“They don’t have any proof this happened. They don’t have any proof she’s admitted to this. It just didn’t happen,” Bobo told Insider, adding that Olson “is just using this as an excuse to abuse his power.”
In response to Insider’s request for comment, a representative for the Diocese told Insider that Gerlach “admitted to violating the Sixth Commandment,” which forbids adultery. The representative declined to comment further.
Bobo denied to Insider that Gerlach made such an admission. He said the Diocese has released no information regarding the alleged violation, such as when or where it would have occurred. Additionally, the nuns said in their court filing that Olson interrogated Gerlach immediately after she returned from a surgical procedure, in which she was put under general anesthesia, intubated, and given fentanyl.
The nuns have alleged ‘an illegal, unholy, unwarranted, explicit, and systemic assault’ by Bishop Michael Olson
Gerlach said in an affidavit that she is severely ill and requires a central catheter line, feeding tube, and intravenous drip for 10 hours a day. Yet despite her condition, she said Bishop Olson “forced himself onto our peaceful community” in late April, interrogated her and other nuns for several hours, and “threw a temper tantrum” in which he yelled that the monastery was shut down and no mass would be held.
“Although she was in significant pain, under the influence of medications and feeling very weak, she felt compelled to acquiesce and was subjected to more questioning,” the nuns’ court filing said. “The Bishop knew she had just come back from the hospital and had a surgical procedure.”
In their lawsuit, the nuns said that because of Olson and the Diocese’s actions, the monastery was no longer able to pay bills or financially operate because their technology was confiscated.
Bobo told Insider the nuns’ devices have since been returned to them — but not before Olson and the Diocese obtained a forensic copy of everything on the devices. He said not only does Olson now have access to the nuns’ personal, private, and financial information, but he has all the personal information about people who contribute financially to the monastery.
The nuns alleged in their lawsuit that Olson and the Diocese are “abusing their power, inflicting moral violence and psychological distress” on the Sisters, and “undertaking an illegal, unholy, unwarranted, explicit, and systemic assault.”
Gerlach’s affidavit said the Discalced Carmelite Nuns spend their days attending mass every morning, gathering seven times a day to chant the official prayer of the church, focusing on contemplative prayer, cooking, cleaning, and working the grounds of the monastery.
The nuns’ lawsuit argued that Olson and the Diocese of Fort Worth vastly overstepped their authority.
“We are not and have never been under the control of the Bishop of the local Diocese: we answer directly to the Pope,” Gerlach’s affidavit said.
Read the original article on Insider