A leading expert on anti-abuse policies recently visited the Diocese of Orange, discussing her work at the Vatican to prevent abuse across the globe and safeguard children.
Teresa Kettelkamp, a retired law enforcement veteran now working as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, has dedicated her life to public service and protecting others.
She spent her law enforcement career with the Illinois State Police and, after retiring, served as executive director of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In February, Pope Francis appointed Kettelkamp to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a key committee that advises the Pope on abuse issues.
“As people of faith we believe in the sanctity of life and seeing the image of God in all things,” Kettlekamp said. “Our obligation to protect children is more than a moral one – it’s something that’s sacred.”
Kettelkamp visited the Diocese of Orange in March, serving as the keynote speaker at the Annual SECRC Convocation at the Cultural Center. She discussed the message of Psalm 129:14, which is the foundation for safeguarding children and the vulnerable.
The Catholic Church is aggressively combating abuse across the globe, Kettelkamp said. In her role with the Pontifical Commission, she is on the front lines of that effort by creating policies and guidelines to prevent all forms of abuse.
Communication, awareness and creating a culture that prioritizes vigilance against all forms of abuse and creating a safe haven for all people, regardless of their age, income level and social standing, are key components of abuse prevention, she said.
“Our focus is on prevention and fostering a culture that does not tolerate any form of abuse,” said Kettelcamp, whose commitment to protecting others is echoed through her children. Her son is an officer with the Illinois State Police and her daughter is a social worker.
Kettelcamp is a graduate of Quincy University, a Franciscan Liberal Arts University in Illinois, and spent her 29-year law enforcement career investigating crimes. Some of her top posts included heading the Illinois State Police’s Division of Forensic Services and the agency’s Division of Internal Investigation. In 2016, she moved to Rome to work as a staff member for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors created by Pope Francis and headed by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston.
Today, as an appointed member of the commission, she creates guidelines for the Catholic Church that will protect children and adults, along with working to provide resources for the healing and care for victims and survivors.
“We want to listen to victims and build guidelines to protect children across the globe,” Kettelkamp said.