Pope Francis has named Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera to be secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and Teresa Kettelkamp to serve as adjunct secretary.

Bishop Alí, 56, has been secretary general of the bishops' conference of Colombia since 2021, and he is the longest serving member of the commission. Kettelkamp, 72, served as executive director of the U.S. bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection from 2005 to 2011 and has been a member of the papal commission since 2018.

Bishop Alí replaces Oblate Father Andrew Small who had been appointed secretary "pro tempore" in 2021 after serving as national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States since 2011.

Bishop Alí

Pope Francis shakes hands with Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera at the Vatican March 7, 2024, during a meeting with members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Pope Francis named the Colombian bishop to be secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The announcement, published by the Vatican March 15, "marks a further important step in making our church an ever-safer place for children and vulnerable persons," said Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley of Boston, commission president.

"Coming from different backgrounds and possessing unique gifts in safeguarding, Bishop Alí and Teresa share a common passion for the well-being of children and vulnerable people, with lifetimes of service to the church in this important area. They bring both stability to the commission's agenda and a high degree of professionalism to their new roles," the cardinal said in a written statement released the same day.

"A huge debt of thanks is owed to Father Andrew Small, OMI, our outgoing secretary, who was appointed in 2021 to help the commission realign itself as it became part of the Roman Curia with a new and challenging mandate," the cardinal wrote.

"With vision and tenacity, Father Small has helped realize several important initiatives," he wrote, including hiring additional staff and establishing new offices so the commission has been able to "expand its welcome and outreach to victims and survivors, their families and communities as well as church leadership which has greatly impacted access to information about safeguarding at a local level."

Cardinal O'Malley praised Father Small's "energy and ingenuity," which he also brought to the work of the commission, "particularly through the establishment of the Memorare initiative which provides capacity building in safeguarding to poorer parts of the church. … Many people will benefit from his efforts for years to come and for which we are grateful."

Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, in 1967, Auxiliary Bishop Alí of Bogotá is a psychologist and served as director of the Psychological Orientation Area at the Conciliar Seminary of the Archdiocese of Bogotá from 2007 to 2015. He also taught psychology of human development, social psychology and pastoral psychology there.

He is a senior associate of the Colombian School of Psychologists.

Kettelkamp is an expert in policies and guidelines for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. She spent 29 years with Illinois State Police, reaching the rank of colonel. She headed the police's division of forensic services -- crime labs and crime scene services -- and headed its 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 Illinois state government," according to the papal commission website.

When she retired from law enforcement, she worked for the Gavin Group, Inc. to conduct the first annual compliance audits of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in the United States.

After serving as executive director of the USCCB's Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, she did consulting work and then moved to Rome in 2016 to work for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, focusing on universal guidelines.

Since she was appointed a member of the commission in 2018, she has worked on the healing of survivors as well as integrating their voices into the ministry of the church.