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US Policewoman given leadership role in Vatican abuse panel

Dzieła Berniniego w Watykanie

fot. ChiccoDodiFC / Shutterstock

I.Media - published on 03/17/24

A Colombian bishop and an American lay woman, both already members of the Commission, have been given new leadership positions.

Pope Francis has appointed Colombian psychologist Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera and American laywoman Teresa Morris Kettelkamp as, respectively, secretary and adjunct secretary (a newly created position) of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The Holy See announced the change on March 15, 2024.

These experts, who were already members of this Vatican anti-abuse entity, take over from the former secretary, Fr. Andrew Small, who is stepping down. 

Created in 2014 to advise the pope on the fight against abuse, the Commission is thus strengthened in its leadership with two secretaries under the chairmanship of American Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

The Commission is made up of some 20 lay, clerical, and religious specialists on abuse. In 2022, the Pontiff commissioned them to produce an annual report on the Church’s protection policies and procedures, the first of which is due to be published this spring. 

Psychology expert

The commission’s new secretary, Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera, 56, has been auxiliary bishop of Bogotá since 2015, and general secretary of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference since 2021. 

Bishop Herrera is an expert in social and pastoral psychology, having studied at the Gregorian University in Rome. He has taught at the Bogotá seminary and is a collaborator of the Colombian School of Psychologists.

Pope Francis appointed him a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2015, and reconfirmed him in this role in 2022. 

From the US bishops secretariat

Bishop Alí Herrera will be assisted by an adjunct secretary, expert Teresa Morris Kettelkamp, former executive director of the USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection from 2005 to 2011.

This position is a first for the Vatican commission, which until now has only had one secretary. 

Born in 1952, Teresa Morris Kettelkamp graduated from Quincy University with a degree in political science. She then embarked on a nearly 30-year career in the Illinois State Police — including the Criminology Department — reaching the rank of colonel.

In 2016, she went to Rome to work on the guidelines of the Pontifical Commission for Protection of Minors, of which she was appointed a member in 2018. 

Fr. Small’s departure 

Both take over from British priest Andrew Small, who was appointed secretary in 2021. Born in Liverpool in 1968, this religious missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate was, among other things, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.

By 2023, his management of the Pontifical Commission had been called into question by the resignation of Fr. Hans Zollner, who walked out on March 29. The German Jesuit justified his resignation by harshly attacking the functioning and work of the Vatican institution. 

In a statement released with the new appointments, Cardinal O’Malley pays tribute to Fr. Small’s commitment, in particular to setting up the “Memorare” initiative, a funding mechanism for preventing and combating abuse in areas of the Church with limited resources.

AbusePope FrancisVatican
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