FORT WORTH, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — Developments continue to unfold regarding the Carmelite convent in the Diocese of Fort Worth, with the nuns’ attorney stating that a criminal investigation has been opened into the diocese while the diocese has hinted at drug abuse in the convent.
On June 7, Matthew Bobo – attorney for the Discalced Carmelite Mother Superior and nuns at the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas – issued a statement containing the startling lines: “The Arlington, Texas, Police Department has now opened a criminal investigation into the actions taken by Bishop Olson and those in the Fort Worth diocese under his control relating to the Discalced Carmelite Mother Superior and Nuns at the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas.”
The statement is the latest development in the affair that began when Bishop Michael Olson arrived at the convent on April 24 and initiated an investigation into – what was later revealed publicly – allegations of a sexual sin between Mother Teresa Agnes and an un-named priest from outside the diocese, resulting in Olson’s removing her from the Carmelite order last week.
According to Bobo’s June 7 statement, “multiple law enforcement agencies are involved in the review of this matter including the Tarrant County Sheriff’s office.”
Bobo added that “we are thankful that these law enforcement agencies have decided to undertake this criminal investigation and are confident that the nuns will receive justice under the law of the State of Texas that they deserve.”
“No one – not even a sitting Catholic bishop – is above the law,” he said.
Bobo raised four questions in his statement – questions that were not addressed to law enforcement but to members of the press. They read as follows:
- What is the real motivation for Bishop Olson’s ongoing persecution of a nun who has grave medical issues and is bound to a wheelchair?
- What does the Vatican’s Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life know about this case?
- Why did the Vatican department in charge of female religious hurriedly ratify the very questionable actions of a Catholic bishop who for months now very publicly has been overstepping his authority?
- When will the Vatican open its own investigation into the grave accusations of misconduct against the Bishop of Fort Worth?
He accused Catholic prelates responsible for enforcing Canon Law of continuing “to turn a blind eye, or worse, engage in ‘good old boys’ club’ machinations to defend their own when one of its bishops becomes suspect, and even worse, allegedly engages in criminal activity, under the pretext that he has the power to do so according to the Church’s own legal system.”
Diocese hits back
Shortly afterward, the Diocese of Fort Worth also issued a press release regarding the development, in which Bobo’s statement was roundly condemned. It referred to his statement as “yet another transparent attempt to spread baseless and outrageous accusations regarding Bishop Olson’s legitimate investigation of the Carmelite Monastery.”
The diocesan spokesman described Bobo’s “unilateral press releases” as being “designed to attempt to embarrass Bishop Olson and undermine his authority. Bishop Olson and the Diocese have taken the approach that this is an internal matter and should not be played out in the press.”
The diocese denied that anyone in the diocese, including Olson, had performed “any criminal activity regarding the Monastery.”
The spokesman added that Bobo himself had made the report to the Arlington PD, and then swiftly issued its own suggestion of police involvement: “the Diocese initiated and is in communication with the Arlington Police Department regarding serious concerns it has regarding the use of marijuana and edibles at the monastery, along with other issues that the Diocese will address at another time and in a proper forum.”
Photographs were provided by the diocese, which, according to the spokesman, “speaks [sic] for itself and raises [sic] 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.”
However, medical tablets are not an unexpected find in the convent. Mother Teresa’s health is such that she required a “full-time caregiver,” since the Mother has to use a catheter, feeding tube, and an intravenous drip for 10 hours a day.
On the day of Olson’s initial visit – April 24 – Mother Teresa was reportedly under the effects of strong medication that was required for a procedure the following day.
Arlington police shed light
LifeSite contacted the Arlington PD seeking further information about both Bobo’s and the diocese’s statements. Arlington PD stated that it had “received a letter from a local law firm raising allegations about recent actions taken at the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity.”
The department had consequently “launched an investigation to determine whether any criminal offenses have occurred, which is standard anytime a criminal complaint is made. Detectives are in the early stages of the investigation.”
While the diocese claimed that it was Bobo who sent the complaint to the police, the police informed LifeSite that it was a different law firm, with Bobo’s firm only being “cc’ed on the letter.”
The police additionally confirmed that detectives had “scheduled time to meet with the Diocese this week,” adding that their involvement into “this entire matter seeks to determine whether any criminal offenses have occurred.”
Saga continuing to unfold
The Carmelite nuns had already begun their fight against Bishop Olson’s moves by issuing a court case against him. As LifeSite has reported, they filed their suit against the bishop on May 3, and Olson responded by making the groundbreaking move of publicly announcing on May 16 that Mother Agnes had been accused of committing “sins against the Sixth Commandment” with a priest.
Olson subsequently told the Carmelites that their lawsuit had “incited hatred and animosity against me because of my initiation of the investigation.” As a result, the bishop moved to prohibit any provision of Mass or Confession at the monastery, saying the two sacraments “cannot be conveniently provided” at this time.
He then reinstituted the sacraments after he made the groundbreaking move to dismiss Mother Teresa from the Carmelite order, just one day after the Vatican issued a decree in favor of Olson.
Olson claimed that he had found her “guilty of having violated the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and her vow of chastity with a priest from outside the Diocese of Fort Worth.”
However, Mass has still not been opened up to the numerous faithful who previously attended the nuns’ chapel, due to the “pending lawsuit.”