There’s a strange saga unfolding in Texas. It involves allegations and accusations of illicit sexual relationships, drug use, theft, abuse, spying, planted evidence, and plots to steal a multimillion-dollar property. The people involved are Catholic priests, bishops, and some pretty fired-up nuns.
What has become an open, bitter feud between the bishop of Fort Worth and 10 cloistered nuns in Arlington, Texas, has scandalized and thrilled American Catholics. The cops, the courts, and the Vatican are involved. Onlookers are taking sides. It’s still unclear who’s going to come out on top. And it all started with a startling confession from a devout nun.
The series of events began in December 2020, shortly after Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach, the 43-year-old prioress of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, had a seizure. Gerlach, who had joined the order as a teenager, normally lives a life of quiet prayer and seclusion. But at some point during that month, while she was recovering from the seizure and was heavily medicated, she told a priest and her caregiver (another nun) that she had committed some kind of sexual sin (with another priest).
The story probably could have died there. Unluckily for Gerlach, though, that priest appears to have told his boss, the diocese’s bishop, Michael Olson. And when Olson got wind of the confession sometime in April 2023, he would kick off a strangely intense drama that spiraled to levels no one could have predicted.
I cannot begin to do this story justice with an excerpt. Go click over and read the whole thing, and tell me that your jaw didn’t hit the table as you were doing so. Fort Worth Report has a handy timeline and links to its past stories on this saga if you want to go deeper into the rabbit hole. I’ve said this about some other wild stories I’ve seen, but I really want there to be a prestige podcast about this when it’s over. I think Texas Monthly could do it justice. Now go read, you won’t regret it.