Statement: Father Medina found guilty of sexual solicitation during Sacrament of Reconciliation
The Diocese of Jefferson City is providing the following information, which impacts the faithful, in a spirit of transparency and accountability. Anyone who has experienced or witnessed abuse in a church setting is encouraged to contact law enforcement and contact us.
Father Ignazio Medina has been found guilty of sexual solicitation of an adult on the occasion of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This decision is the result of an administrative disciplinary process overseen by the Holy See’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.
As punishment, Father Medina is permanently deprived of the right to hold any ecclesiastical office (parish or diocesan) and of the faculty to hear confessions. Furthermore, he may not celebrate or concelebrate Mass except with his diocesan bishop’s explicit permission, which will not be granted except for extraordinary circumstances.
These penalties are effective immediately.
This process began on April 15, 2022, when the Diocese of Jefferson City received a report of sexual solicitation of an adult on the occasion of the Sacrament of Reconciliation via the diocesan Safe Environment abuse hotline. Canon 1385 of the Code of Canon Law states: “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.”
Upon receiving the report, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City immediately placed temporary restrictions on Father Medina, barring him from hearing confessions and from being alone with anyone other than his family on church property. He also launched a preliminary investigation into the actions of Father Medina, who was then pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Lake Ozark.
Because of the crime’s serious nature, jurisdiction is reserved to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. On June 2, 2022, the results of the diocesan investigation were delivered to the Dicastery. On Oct. 25, 2022, the Holy See instructed Bishop McKnight to establish an administrative disciplinary process to determine guilt, and if Father Medina were to be found guilty, to impose appropriate penalties.
To ensure an impartial process, Bishop McKnight delegated the matter to an experienced priest and canon lawyer from the Archdiocese of Toronto in Canada. During the process, Father Medina was represented by a canon lawyer and given the opportunity to provide his defense.
On Nov. 27, 2023, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith approved a decree finding Father Medina guilty of the crime and allowed the imposition of permanent penalties.
Fr. Medina chose not to appeal. With the expiration of the appeal period, the decision is now final.
The three elements of the penalties are:
- Father Medina is permanently banned from hearing confessions;
- he cannot celebrate or concelebrate Mass publicly without the explicit permission of his diocesan bishop;
- and he can never hold an office within the church again.
Father Medina remains a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City and continues to receive support as a retired priest.
Throughout the process, the victim has been offered assistance for healing.
“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,” Bishop 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.”
Bishop McKnight explained, “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.”
“I thank the victim in this case for stepping forward, and I pray for healing,” Bishop 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.”