FORT WORTH, Texas (NewsNation) — A criminal investigation has been launched into the actions taken by a Fort Worth bishop amid a dispute between the Catholic Diocese of Forth Worth and a reverend mother who says she was wrongly accused of adultery.
Authorities are investigating actions taken by Bishop Micael Olson and those in the Fort Worth Diocese under his control relating to the Arlington-based Order of Discalced Carmelite Nuns Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach, according to a release, KRIV reported.
In the latest development, the diocese said it has alerted authorities of “serious concerns it has regarding the use of marijuana and edibles” inside the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington. It provided photos that show pill bottles and cannabis products littered across a table, which the diocese said were taken by a “confidential informant” and suggest broader problems within the order.
“The photograph speaks for itself and raises serious questions that the bishop is tirelessly working to address with law enforcement and in private in accordance with canonical norms and within his authority as bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth and as pontifical commissary,” the diocese said in a statement.
The latest revelations Wednesday add to the unusual dispute playing out publicly between Olson and Gerlach.
Matthew Bobo, who represents Gerlach and the Arlington-based Order of Discalced Carmelite Nuns, responded to the photos on Thursday.
“It’s obscene what he’s doing. It’s desperate; he’s cornered. He’s just making more salacious allegations,” Bobo said.
Olson and the nuns deny any involvement in alleged criminal activity, but both have asked authorities to investigate the other side.
Arlington police confirmed to NewsNation that detectives are in the early stages of an investigation into the actions taken at the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity.
Bobo said police spoke with the nuns at the monastery earlier this week.
“It was after that we found out they opened up a criminal investigation against Bishop Olson and the diocese,” Bobo said.
The feud between the monastery and the diocese started in April when Olson launched an investigation after accusing Gerlach of violating her vow of chastity with another unnamed priest.
The diocese called the alleged misconduct “grave” but has not publicized the exact nature of the affair.
On June 1, Olson issued a decree dismissing Gerlach from religious life. Gerlach, who uses a wheelchair and feeding tube, had been a member of the Order of Discalced Carmelite Nuns for 25 years.
After the diocese’s investigation, the monastery filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages. The nuns further challenged Olson’s authority to conduct the investigation, arguing they were subject only to the Vatican.
The monastery alleges Olson and Fort Worth Diocese officials overstepped their power and engaged in criminal behavior during their investigation.
Olson, who leads a diocese of more than one million Catholics across close to 100 parishes, has come under scrutiny before, with critics of his leadership style signed a petition to remove him years ago.