Weekly roundup: Boy scouts, papal exorcism, and mall Masses

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It's Friday, and you know what that means: another news roundup. Here's what you missed this week.

First, there were no votes this week to legalize same-sex marriage. But there was a vote about homosexuality that got nearly as much (if not more) attention: The Boy Scouts of America has agreed for the first time to admit openly gay members. More than 60 percent of the members voted in favor of a motion that allows openly gay boys to join. The organization left in place the ban on gay scout leaders, however. You may join, but when you grow up, you may not lead. At least not yet.

Meanwhile, the Christian Brothers religious order has settled a law suit with about 400 sexual abuse victims to the tune of $16.5 million, while the Catholic Whistleblowers are working from within to clean house and get rid of sexual abuse in the church once and for all. Read Scott Alessi's comments on the whistle-blowers.

This week, a St. Louis priest has made the news for coming out--both as gay and as the author of the 2011 book Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic priest. Father Gary Meier has decided that is it time for him to speak out as an advocate for LGBT Catholics who "have been made to feel 'less than' by their fellow Catholics." Read Scott Alessi's comments about Father Meier's motion of solidarity here.

In Rome, Pope Francis continues to be the quotable pope. In remarks he made during Wednesday morning Mass, the pontiff said that "doing good" is a principle that unites all of humanity, and that a "culture of encounter" is the foundation of peace. The pope's remarks have garnered enthusiasm and skepticism by Catholics and atheists alike. Read Meghan Murphy-Gill's comments about what the pope's remarks might mean for the church.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Republican Rep. Steve Smith demanded a re-do of the invocation offered by Democratic Rep. Juan Mendez on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives. Mendez is an atheist, and his prayer was a simple one: "In this room, let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our state, for our Constitution and for our democracy." Smith claimed that it "wasn't a prayer," so invited the other members of the House to join him in a prayer of repentance. The battle of the prayers may be moot though, as the Supreme Court will hear church-state case about prayer in public meetings.

While atheists might be finding Pope Francis more friendly and approachable, some suspect that demons are fleeing from his presence. According to some reports, the pontiff performed a public exorcism after the Pentecost Mass on Sunday. The Vatican denied that Francis had in fact performed any kind of exorcism, stating that he was simply praying for the boy.

Priests in the Philippines are trying to make Mass more approachable and accessible to the masses by bringing Mass to shopping malls.Some folks love being able to eat lunch at the food court immediately after Mass, but others object that "mall church" experience means that people are being too casual about their encounter with God.

The HHS mandate is back in the spotlight again, as evangelical Christian owners of Hobby Lobby claim that they should not have to provide their employees with insurance that covers emergency contraception. As a for-profit business, Hobby Lobby is fully subject to the mandate.

A new survey from Saint John's University School of Theology has been released, showing that 60% of priests are unhappy with the New Roman Missal. U.S. Catholic conducted a similar survey and got similar results in December 2012.

And finally, the city of Moore, Oklahoma was hit by a massive tornado that killed 24 people, including nine children. Our prayers are with those who have been hurt and displaced, with those who mourn, and with those who are helping to rebuild.