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A Missouri Catholic priest was found guilty by the church of soliciting sex from an adult during a confession, an act the church described as “a sacrilege” and a “grave form of abuse” that cannot be tolerated.
Father Ignazio Medina of the Diocese of Jefferson City is now prohibited from holding office in the church, hearing confessions and celebrating or leading Mass publicly without the explicit permission of his diocesan bishop, the diocese said in a statement.
The diocese received a report on April 15, 2022, through the diocese’s abuse hotline alleging sexual solicitation of an adult on the occasion of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Canon 1385 of the Code of Canon Law says a priest “who in the act, on the occasion, or under the pretext of confession solicits a penitent to sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is to be punished according to the gravity of the delict, by suspension, prohibitions, privations; and in more grave cases, he is to be dismissed from the clerical state.”
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A Missouri Catholic priest was found guilty by the church of soliciting sex from an adult during a confession. (Diocese of Jefferson City)
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City launched an investigation after learning of the report and placed temporary restrictions on Medina, including banning him from hearing confessions and from being alone with anyone other than his family on church property.
Medina, who served as a priest at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Ozark, was found guilty by decree by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome on Nov. 27, 2023. Medina did not appeal the decision.
“I want to be clear that sexual solicitation during confession is a sacrilege, a crime in our Church, and a grave form of abuse; it cannot be tolerated,” McKnight said. “With God’s help we must work to continue to eradicate abuse from all corners of our Church. Please join me in prayer for all who are left in pain and confusion when a trusted leader abuses their position of sacred trust and power for sinful purposes.”
“I have met with Father Medina to express my concerns and informed him he will not be allowed to celebrate or concelebrate Mass publicly except for funeral Masses of his immediate family, at the gathering of priests at their annual conference in October, and at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week,” he continued.
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Father Ignazio Medina of the Diocese of Jefferson City is prohibited from holding office in the church, hearing confessions and celebrating or leading Mass publicly without the explicit permission of his diocesan bishop. (Diocese of Jefferson City)
Medina remains a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City and continues to receive support as a retired priest, the diocese said.
“I thank the victim in this case for stepping forward, and I pray for healing,” McKnight said. “I also thank all who helped during the investigation and disciplinary process. In addition, I am very grateful for our clergy, parish staff and parishioners who are dedicated to ensuring our diocesan Safe Environment protocols are followed. As we move forward together, I seek the renewal of our Church by facing the awful reality of abuse with the hope and grace of the Gospel which provides the healing we all need.”
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This comes after Medina was found guilty in April 2023 of abuse of ecclesiastical power after transferring roughly $300,000 in parish funds to personal accounts.