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Vatican Signals New Tone on U.S. Nuns

An unprecedented Vatican investigation of U.S. women's religious orders that alarmed Roman Catholic sisters when the inquiry began years ago ended Tuesday with a report signaling a softer approach under Pope Francis.

The report praised sisters for their selfless work caring for the poor and promised to value their "feminine genius" more, while gently suggesting ways to serve the church faithfully and survive amid a steep drop in their numbers. There was no direct critique of the nuns, nor any demand for them to change — only requests that they ensure their ministries remain "in harmony with Catholic teaching."

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Press: Church of England to Name First Woman Bishop

The Church of England is to name its first ever female bishop, ending centuries of male leadership following a historic change to its rules, British media reported on Wednesday.

The Church is set to ordain a female priest as the new Bishop of Stockport, a post that has been vacant since May, newspapers The Telegraph and The Guardian reported.

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Saudi Cleric's Wife Shows Face on TV, Sparking Uproar

A Saudi cleric has sparked uproar by appearing on television along with his wife -- whose face was uncovered in an open challenge to strict tradition in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamedi, who has said covering the face is not a must for women under Islam, sat alongside his wife Jawaher bint Ali as she spoke to Dubai-based Saudi MBC television, in a program broadcast at the weekend.

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Judy Blume Book for Adults to Be Released in June

Judy Blume is returning to the grown-up section.

The author's first adult novel since 1998 is coming out in June. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced Monday that the novel "In the Unlikely Event" will be set in the early 1950s in Blume's native New Jersey and will tell of a series of mysterious plane crashes.

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Weird Museums: Travel off the Beaten Path

Travelers looking for something beyond top attractions like the Space Needle in Seattle might consider adding a weird museum or two to their itineraries.

Here are some suggestions from among dozens of unusual museums across the nation, from a funeral museum to an attraction devoted to wet wipes, of all things. They're all worth a stop, but probably shouldn't be your only reason for buying a plane ticket.

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Thai Sea Gypsies Embrace Modern Life after Tsunami

As he gently lowers a fishing net into an azure lagoon, Saponkit Klatalay concedes he no longer roams the waters for days and nights like generations of sea gypsies before him, but prefers to sleep on the Thai mainland where he was resettled after the 2004 tsunami.

His village of "Chao Lay" sea-people drew on their ancestors' knowledge to survive the deadly waves, but the disaster has also thrust modernity upon his community and hastened their drift from the centuries-old seafaring traditions that saved their lives.

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Scores of French and Belgian Comics Sell for 1.89 Million Euros

A rare 1939 comic drawing from the adventures of boy hero Tintin sold for 539,880 euros ($673,468) during auctions staged simultaneously in Brussels and Paris on Sunday.

The sketch by Herge was among scores of French and Belgian comic works that fetched a total of 1.89 million euros, organizers said, higher than initial estimates had predicted.

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Novel by Nobel Laureate Modiano Set for U.S. in 2015

A recent work of fiction by Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano will be published in the U.S. late next year.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced Sunday that it has acquired "So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood" ("Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier"). The publisher calls it a "haunting novel of suspense" set, like much of Modiano's work, in Paris.

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Staff from Top Uzbek Museum Jailed for Paintings Fraud

Several employees from Uzbekistan's top museum have been jailed for selling original art works and replacing them with copies for 15 years, the General Prosecutor's Office newspaper reported Friday.

The chief curator of the Uzbek State Arts Museum, Mirfayz Usmonov, received a nine-year sentence and two other museum staff received eight years each, the Huquq newspaper reported.

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Surging Child Abuse in Egypt Overshadowed by Strife

Eight-year-old Rahma was on her way home from school when she was raped -- another victim of a surge in child abuse that has been overshadowed by turmoil in Egypt.

Two months on, she is still receiving psychotherapy and dreads going anywhere near the spot where the assault took place, close to the family farm in the Nile Delta.

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