Reverend Mother Superior Teresa Agnes Gerlach was found in the middle of a scandal after she was alleged to have broken her vow to chastity by sexting a fellow priest. After the investigation by a superior Bishop, Gerlach was removed from her position as mother superior, and the case was further proceeded.
While Gerlach is now ordered to leave the monastery but she, along with some other nuns, refuses to abide by the order by the Vatican and might face excommunication.
Texas Nun Sexting Scandal
In 2022, a scandal erupted at the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, when it was alleged that a 43-year-old nun, Reverend Mother Superior Teresa Agnes Gerlach, had broken her vow of chastity by sexting with a priest, Father Bernard Marie. Gerlach who uses a wheelchair and feeding tube however denied the allegations.
However, later Gerlach allegedly accepted to have sexted with Father Marie but denied any physical relations between the two.
Earlier this year, the superior of Gerlach, the Diocese of Fort Worth's leader, Bishop Michael Olson investigated the case and after finding enough evidence from Gerlach's phone, chats, and calls, removed the latter from her position as a superior mother, expelling her from the Monastery Of The Most Holy Trinity of Arlington. The monastry is also closed for the public.
Gerlach and her supporters had denied abiding by the orders as they claimed to no longer be under the authority of Bishop Olson and had filed a lawsuit against him for invading their privacy by seizing their electronic devices. They also accused Bishop Olson of defamation and channelling personal warfare against them.
In addition to the lawsuit, the nuns have also been critical of the way the diocese handled the investigation. They have alleged that Olson did not follow proper procedures and that he was biased against Gerlach. They have also said that he did not allow them to have a lawyer present during the investigation.
The nuns and novices of the monastery are now supporting Gerlach and say they have full faith in her authority and leadership. The nuns of Carmelite have also closed the monastery for Bishop Olson or any of his representatives and asked him to refrain from making any contact with them.
The Bishop has denied all the allegations as he stated he was hurt by the nuns over the rejection of his authority as diocesan and had to inform the faithful about Gerlach's excommunication by her own actions and he fears that other nuns could be excommunicated as well depending on their involvement.
Bishop Olson has closed the monastery for public access and states that it will remain closed unless Gerlach will publicly disavows her actions.
The diocese has denied the nuns' allegations and has said that it conducted a fair and impartial investigation. It has also said that it is committed to protecting the rights of all its members, including nuns.
The Texas nun scandal is a complex and sensitive issue. It raises important questions about the role of women in the Catholic Church, the treatment of nuns, and the power of bishops. The case is still ongoing, and it remains to be seen how it will be resolved.
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