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Downtown Jefferson City, MO. Photo: Givolk. WikiCommons.

Lake Ozark Catholic priest disciplined for soliciting sex during confession

The Catholic Church has found a priest in Lake Ozark, Mo., guilty of soliciting sex from an adult during confession, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Father Ignazio Medina of the Diocese of Jefferson City is now prohibited from holding office in the church, hearing confessions or 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 2022, through its 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.”

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 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 last November. 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.”

Medina remains a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City and continues to receive support as a retired priest, the diocese said. This comes after he was found guilty last April of abuse of ecclesiastical power after transferring roughly $300,000 in parish funds to personal accounts.

Jacob Luecke, a representative for the diocese, told CNA that the decision to allow Father Medina to retain his priestly faculties and continue to receive retirement support from the Church was made by the Vatican, not the diocese.

“It was not within our authority to determine the penalties,” Luecke said, adding that the penalties “were decided as part of the administrative disciplinary process that was prescribed by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

Photo: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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