Richard Connor: It’s not a man’s world, Bishop Olson, it’s a new world

Bishop Michael Olson

The Bishop got the boot.

Because the Carmelite nuns of Arlington are too spiritual, kind and not given to such vulgarity, they did not add: “and don’t let the gates hit you in the ass on the way out.”

The nuns have banned Bishop Michael Olson from the grounds of their monastery and no longer acknowledge his authority over them.

He dodged if not a bullet a feisty woman, Fort Worth’s Sheila Johnson, whose mother, Ruth Carter Stevenson, donated the land to the covenant. There had been speculation the bishop wanted the nuns’ land for his empire building schemes. Sheila said if he tried to take it, she would meet him at the gates with a shotgun (unloaded).

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Someone might alert the out-of-touch bishop that the hardest-working man in show business (self-proclaimed), James Brown, is gone, perhaps to heaven but we do not know. Forgiveness is arbitrary and strange. But one of James Brown’s signature songs is gone, too, and Bishop Olson is as out of touch as Brown was when he sang, “This is a man’s world …”

Olson might do better to fire up the old Victrola, or have one of his maids to do it, and play Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem, I Am Woman. Them’s fightin’ words. The nuns heard them.

Nuns or not, religious women who have given their life to God need be no more subservient to a bullying bishop than to any other man. Bishop Olson has treated Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach – a devoted servant of the church who is confined to a wheelchair and uses a feeding tube – with disrespect and attempted to ruin her reputation over a highly questionable allegation of her violating her vows.

She sued him in civil court and the judge, Don Cosby, took the easy way out saying the matter was “canonical.” Another powerful man not willing to stand up for an abused woman.

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You have to wonder what’s actually behind the robes of men such as Cosby and Olson – if anything at all.

My Latin is sketchy but the Spanish word “cojones” comes to mind.

Hooray for the Carmelite nuns of Arlington.

Maybe they can invite the bishop over to mow the grass on their 72 acres when the church in Rome decides to strip him of his authority.

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All the evidence the Vatican needs to confirm that the glass-house-residing bishop should not be casting the first stone is the testimony of a onetime friend of Olson, Diane Cluley, who offers, under oath, some clues about the bishop in a Dec. 12, 2018, deposition prompted by a defamation lawsuit brought against Olson by Father Richard Kirkham, a priest who resigned as pastor of a church in Prosper, Texas, after clashing with the bishop.

It is damning.

She describes Olson referring to nuns as “lesbians,” says he admitted to being an alcoholic, and described another group of nuns he wanted to evict: “Well, it’s just a bunch of women there… a bunch of nuns.”

Olson apparently spent hours and hours at Cluley’s house when he was a seminarian. She says he was fearful and insecure.

Perhaps the worst part of her story is when she describes Olson’s mother reminding him that on Halloween he dressed up as Hitler and called  on a Jewish neighbor.

Olson denied it. Mom said she had a photo.

James Brown had a catchy tune, but it lied. His song was sexist if not misogynistic when he sang it in 1966, and he was out of touch then just as the bishop is now.

Welcome to the new world, Bishop Olson. If you think these nuns are “just a bunch of women” as you allegedly described that other group of nuns, you should be on notice that they are a bunch of women who are powerful and independent and strong. They will not be bullied.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Buiness Press. Contact him at