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Arlington nuns drop latest lawsuit against Bishop of Fort Worth

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CBS News Texas Live

ARLINGTON — The nuns in Arlington locked in a year-long dispute with the Bishop of Fort Worth are dropping their latest request for a civil court judge to intervene.

The Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity filed a notice of non-suit Tuesday, ending their pursuit of a temporary restraining order against Bishop Michael Olson, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, and the Association of Christ the King in the United States of America.

The filing doesn't offer a reason for dropping the suit. However, a representative for the nuns explained they had been working during the past month to strengthen their ownership of the monastery, its assets and independent governance, and protection from the courts became less necessary.

A spokesman for the Diocese told CBS News Texas it was informed of the withdrawal Tuesday, and while confident the suit would have been dismissed, it prays the sisters will now "accept the need for spiritual and moral reconciliation with The Church."

The Vatican informed the nuns in a letter last month that the President of Christ the King, an association of monasteries, was their new lawful superior. Olson also said he would be overseeing the election of new leadership at the monastery.

The nuns rejected the arrangement though, calling it a "hostile takeover," and reaffirmed they would not recognize the authority of Olson specifically.

The battle with Olson goes back to April of 2023 when he began an investigation into the Rev. Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach over allegations she had violated a vow of chastity with a priest from out of state.

Gerlach and the monastery took the unusual move of asking the civil court for protection, alleging theft and invasion of privacy.

A Tarrant County judge sided with Diocese attorneys, who argued it was an internal church matter that the civil courts had no jurisdiction over. The nuns later dropped the civil suit, deciding instead to pursue relief through the internal church legal process.

The results of that canonical investigation were still pending, the nuns said, when they were informed of the Vatican's decree last month.

The filing Tuesday does allow for the nuns to pursue the lawsuit again if necessary.

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