Carmelite nuns abandon appeal plans against Texas bishop

Texas bishop

A group of Carmelite nuns involved in a lawsuit against a Texas bishop has decided not to pursue initial plans to appeal the dismissal of their case and instead are putting their faith in a Vatican canonical investigation.

The nuns’ legal representative, Matthew Bobo, confirmed this development in a statement released on Monday.

The decision comes after the Vatican intervened, indicating that they would withhold action on the canonical investigation until the conclusion of the civil litigation.

Two nuns from the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity filed the lawsuit, alleging that Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson (pictured) violated their privacy and damaged their reputation within the religious community.

The dispute arose when the bishop dismissed Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes of Jesus Crucified Gerlach from the Order of Discalced Carmelites. The dismissal was based on allegations of Gerlach breaking her chastity vow by being involved with a priest.

The nuns initially planned to appeal the dismissal of their lawsuit by Tarrant County’s 67th District Court Judge Don Cosby.

Nuns hoping for fair resolution

However, the Vatican’s communication with the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity changed their course of action. Instead of pursuing the appeal, the nuns are now placing their trust in the Vatican’s canonical process, hoping for a just and fair resolution.

Attorney Matthew Bobo, who represented both Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach and her primary caregiver Sister Francis Terese in the civil law case, expressed the nuns’ new stance. He emphasised that they will rely solely on the Vatican to conduct a thorough investigation and ensure justice is served.

The Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of the Apostolic Life, a body within the Vatican responsible for overseeing matters related to religious orders, will be taking up the review of the canonical investigation and Gerlach’s appeal against the bishop’s decision.

Diocese welcomes nuns’ decision

The Fort Worth Catholic Diocese has welcomed the nuns’ decision not to appeal the lawsuit’s dismissal, reiterating their belief that the matter should not have been brought before a civil court in the first place.

For the time being, Reverend Mother Gerlach remains on administrative leave.

“The nuns place their hopes and prayers on a just and fair review of the case by the Vatican to ensure that acts taken by Bishop Olson will be reversed and they will be completely exonerated,” Bobo said in his statement.


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