January 11, 1973
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fr. Robert V. Monticello, executive director of the Campaign for Human Development (CHD), has been named associate General Secretary of the U.S. Catholic Conference (USCC), the second highest administrative position in the Conference.
Monticello, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, was made national CHD director in July, 1971. It was in September of the same year that scandal began to touch the CHD funding policy. Judge John H. Norton of Fairfield, Conn., uncovered evidence of grants given to organizations involved in birth-control and abortion activities. During the ensuing months of controversy, as the scandal became increasingly a public matter, Fr. Monticello and the former General Secretary of the USCC-NCCB, Bishop Joseph Bernardin, issued ambiguously worded statements which appeared to deny all truth to the Norton charges without actually doing so. All cooperation with newsmen seeking to investigate the matter was refused by Fr. Monticello, even after official, episcopal statements conceded the substance of the Norton allegations.
Fr. Monticello will continue as “acting” director of CHD until a successor is named. In moving up to the post of associate General Secretary, Monticello assumes the responsibilities lately vacated by Fr. James S. Rausch, who has succeeded Archbishop Bernardin.
The forty-six-year-old Monticello was ordained in 1951. He received degrees in social work from Fordham University and the University of Detroit. He worked as Director of Social Services and as Director of the Department of Christian Service for the Detroit Archdiocese. When the CHD was first organized, Cardinal Dearden named Monticello as archdiocesan director.
During the early and middle Sixties, Fr. Monticello taught a course in social work at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary. It is quite amusing to talk to men who were students at Sacred Heart in those days. They all remember Fr. Monticello very well: tooling up in his big, fancy car to teach future priests about the woes of the poor. His class was a riot, one is told. No work and no content. Just anecdotes illustrating one thing and another, especially Fr. Monticello’s own organizational talents. The attitude of his seminarian-pupils (who called him by the nickname “Bobby Vee”) toward Fr. Monticello seems never to have been shared by the lords spiritual of Detroit back in those palmy days (which are now long over, the seminary being virtually empty). If anyone had told the boys at Sacred Heart, a decade ago, that “Bobby Vee” was headed for the second highest spot in the U.S Catholic Conference, they would just have laughed.