In a statement released on Wednesday, Pope Francis named Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth as his official envoy for the examination of a disputed monastery in Arlington amid mounting disagreements over claims of authority overreach.
The Pontifical Commissary, Bishop Olson, represents the Pope in this specific case, according to a statement from the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. It went on to state that Bishop Olson was and is still in charge of the monastery fully, as has been acknowledged and accepted by the Dicastery.
Pope Francis Appoints Fort Worth Bishop to Investigate Arlington Monastery
According to the article in WFAA, the papal order was issued in response to Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes, who is the superior of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns monastery in Arlington, challenging Olson's jurisdiction to look into what the diocese has described as "admitted-to" transgressions of the Sixth Commandment and the vow of chastity.
The monks sued Olson when he launched the probe, disputing his power over them. The nuns requested a declaratory judgment to establish the parties' legal relationship as well as a temporary restraining order to stop Olson's probe. The Vatican decree, at least in terms of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, vehemently rejected their appeal, nevertheless.
Olson was the target of multiple charges in the nuns' complaint. It was claimed in the lawsuit that Olson, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth's Bishop, and his agents were abusing their authority and causing the plaintiffs and the Sisters moral harm and psychological distress through what was called an illegal, unholy, unjustified, overt, and persistent attack on their sanctity and autonomy.
The case also made it clear that Olson and the Diocese of Fort Worth had no control over the monastery because it was an independent religious organization. The monastery's affiliation with the contemplative organization of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, a pontifical organization founded in the late 16th century, was underlined in the lawsuit.
The legal attorney for the nuns has also affirmed that Mother Teresa Agnes was extremely medicated in December 2022 and stated that she has never had such a sexual encounter. In the article in Pillar Catholic, the nuns disputed Bishop Olson's "admission" and his canonical authority to take action against the monastery in addition to contesting the "admission" that prompted it. Furthermore, it is unclear what claimed canonical crime Olson is truly looking into or whether he is authorized to do so by canon law.
Civil Lawyer Criticizes Bishop Olson's Actions as Vengeful Amid Monastery Investigation
Following Pope Francis's decision to designate Bishop Olson as his delegate to look into the Arlington monastery, Matthew Bobo, a civil lawyer who represents the monastery and Mother Gerlach, has characterized Bishop Olson's restrictions as an act of retaliation.
According to Catholic News Agency, in a statement, Bobo referred to Bishop Olson's most recent activities as an exceptionally intense display of conceit, vengeance, and lack of compassion. He claimed that this was meant at Sister Francis Therese and the other reclusive sisters who, since the 1950s, have dutifully and persistently offered the Divine Office (the Catholic Church's daily universal prayer) for the Church and the world.
Bobo disputes the diocese's claims that the Reverend Mother admitted to engaging in adultery with a priest in violation of the Sixth Commandment, which forbids it. He claims that she was affected by painkillers after surgery and that he "has not admitted to any grave misconduct that would warrant his extreme and emotionally harmful measures."