Lawler really nails it in the last few chapters of The Faithful Departed. The bishops forgot their primary duty to God and began to put a perceived good of the institutional Church before it. Thus they could rationalize deception with respect to abusive priests (to prevent scandal). But while there may be such a thing as a Noble Lie (you can debate that with Plato if you wish), there is no such thing as a Holy Lie. God does not need our lies.
We are back to the root of all sin, pride. The bishops began to believe in their own indispensability; this was no more so than in the case of Cardinal Law. I remember not believing that the guy just wouldn't go. It never seemed to dawn on him that he was part of the problem and couldn't be part of the solution. I wonder if he even realizes that now.
The best paragraph in the whole book is the following:
"If the Catholic Church is nothing more than a human institution, it will not survive beyond the next generation or two. But then, if the Catholic Church is only a human institution, it does not deserve to survive. If, however, the Church is an institution founded by God - if it is the living Body of Christ - then she will certainly survive and flourish in spite of all earthly handicaps."
Things are only going to get worse for the Church, at least around here. Even though the Archbishop has closed a number of parishes, more still are going to need to be closed. And the number of priests is about to fall off of a cliff. My parish, for instance, has three priests in residence but that is deceptive. It's basically become a retirement home, with all three of the priests in their seventies or beyond. Young people have no interest in the faith and only go through the motions of Confirmation because it is demanded by their parents, most of whom are twice a year Catholics. What will these kids do when they are on their own? Will they even require their own children to go through the motions? Why should they?
We are about to find out if the Catholic Church in Boston is a merely human institution or not.