Pope Francis names U.S. police professional, Colombian bishop to minor protection commission — By: Catholic News Agency

A Colombian psychologist bishop and a retired colonel from the Illinois State Police are the new secretaries of the Pontifical Commission for the Guardianship of Minors. / Credit: Holy See Press Office

CNA Staff, Mar 15, 2024 / 15:25 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday appointed an American former law enforcement professional as adjunct secretary to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and a Colombian bishop as secretary of the independent body tasked since 2014 with advising the pope on how the Church can best protect minors and vulnerable adults. 

The Vatican announced March 15 that Teresa Morris Kettelkamp, a Chicago native and Illinois law enforcement professional, was named as the commission’s adjunct secretary. Auxiliary Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera of Bogotá, Colombia, was named secretary of the commission, replacing Father Andrew Small, who had served as temporary secretary since 2021. Both appointees were already members of the currently 19-member commission. 

The commission, established by Pope Francis in March 2014, is headed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who turns 80 in June. O’Malley has defended the commission’s effectiveness, saying last March that “the protection of children and vulnerable persons remains at the heart of the Church’s mission.”

Kettelkamp formerly was appointed to lead the United States bishops’ Office for Child and Youth Protection in 2005, serving in that role until 2011. She was first appointed a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2018. She had previously worked on the drafting of the Guidelines for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults with the commission. 

A former colonel with the Illinois State Police (ISP), Kettelkamp retired after 29 years of service, during which time she headed the ISP’s crime labs and crime scene services. She also, according to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors website, headed the ISP’s Division of Internal Investigation, which was responsible for the investigation of allegations of misconduct within the ISP as well as in the agencies, boards, and commissions under the executive branch of the Illinois state government.

Alí Herrera, who is also a psychologist, was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, on May 2, 1967, and was ordained a priest in 1992. After graduating with a degree in theology from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá in 2003, he obtained a degree in psychology from the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome (2007). He is a senior associate of the Colegio Colombiano de Psicólogos (Colombian School of Psychologists), Vatican News reported.

Pope Francis appointed him as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2014 and appointed him an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Bogotá the following year.

The work and operations of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has garnered scrutiny in recent years, in part because of questions Small, the commission’s former temporary secretary, has faced since May 2023 about his management of funds at the Pontifical Mission Societies U.S.A. In addition, a prominent founding member of the commission, Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, resigned his post roughly a year ago, citing “issues that need to be urgently addressed” related to a perceived lack of “responsibility, compliance, accountability, and transparency.”

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