By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jul 04, 2013 at 4:31 PM Photography:

I’ve always been a little confused and intrigued by Roman Catholics despite the place they have occupied in my life.

I learned to play golf and about golf etiquette from a monsignor at St. Monica’s Parish in Whitefish Bay. The family I am closest to are devout Catholics, complete with a priest in the family.

I love the pomp and circumstance of the Catholic Church and when the cardinals gather in Rome to choose a new pope I stay locked on my television set waiting for that puff of smoke.

I kind of think of the church the way I think of the royal family in England – fascinating a bit and full of wonder at some of the goings on.

What’s got me about the Catholics is this horror house revealed by that big stack of documents released by the Milwaukee Archdiocese this week.

They tell a horror-filled story of sexual predators going after the most vulnerable in our world – our children. And after I get done being sick about these tales, I am left wondering how many people kept these secrets.

I wonder about Mike McCann, who was the District Attorney who got complete records of one of the worst priestly offenders and who told the Archdiocese that there were no grounds for criminal prosecution. I love McCann and I know he’s a very devout Catholic and is a frequent worshipper at the Church of the Gesu Downtown. I can’t help but wonder if his religious fervor played any role in that decision.

I’m not a gullible guy and I can’t believe all this sin was going on and nobody in the congregation knew about it. A church is a small universe and tongues wag.

I can’t help but wonder what those people who knew think now that this whole sordid story has been laid bare for all to see and find repugnant. Do they feel guilty because they didn’t say anything? I sure hope so.

There are men involved in the moral and financial issues raised and disclosed in these papers. Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Rembert Weakland are men for whom I have some admiration. I find it hard to get my arms around any character aspersions leveled against such pious men.

I guess I’ve always thought of the Catholic religion as one of serious piety. Kind of like the Jews who walk around in black suits and shawls. Pious. Catholics don’t wear black suits but I’ve always thought they, too, held their religion close to their hearts.

I grew up in a home with my Catholic grandmother and I’ve seen up close what a comfort the Catholic faith can be in the life of a believer.

And it makes me wonder how all the people who knew – or even suspected – that their holy men were molesting young boys and girls can square their silence with the most solemn and basic teachings of their religion.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.