Carmelite nuns block Vatican-appointed representative from entering Arlington, Texas, monastery

Elizabeth Campbell, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Religious News

The legal battle between the Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity and Bishop Michael Olson may be over after a second lawsuit was dismissed on Wednesday, but another fight involving orders from the Vatican over who has authority over the nuns is brewing.

On Wednesday and Thursday, a representative appointed by Rome was turned away when she tried to enter the monastery to deliver letters from the Vatican to the nine cloistered nuns. They do not want to be governed or managed by the Association of Christ the King, the Carmelite order appointed to govern and manage operations of the monastery, according to the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.

A spokesperson for the diocese wrote in an email, “The Diocese does not know what will happen next because this is a matter between the Vatican and the Christ the King Association.”

The diocese also stated in an email that a priest who accompanied the representative to celebrate Mass for the nuns was also turned away Thursday.

On Wednesday, Mother Marie of the Incarnation, president of the Carmelite Association of Christ the King, issued a statement which said in part, “Today, in obedience to the Decree of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, I visited the Arlington Carmel and attempted to present to each Sister the letters which the Dicastery had directed me to give to each individually. Unfortunately, I was rejected and not granted admittance.”

But the nuns countered with a statement that asked Olson to apologize publicly and in person, calling his investigation into allegations that the Rev. Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach violated her chastity vows with a priest “abusive.”


“In respect of the decrees upholding Bishop Olson’s investigation of allegations against our Mother Prioress, we repeat that his investigations were flawed in radice, carried out in an intimidatory manner and violated her ecclesiastical and civil rights.”

Vatican decrees

On Tuesday, the Vatican issued several decrees upholding Olson’s decision to investigate Gerlach, who was accused of breaking her chastity vow with a priest from North Carolina.

But the Vatican overturned Olson’s decision to dismiss her from the Carmelite order because she did not “exert force or violence” and she did not have authority over the priest, the Rev. Phillip Johnson.


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