Pope moves speech for Jewish MPs

Parliament speech on Yom Kippur eve to end in time for Jewish members.

pope benedict xvi 311 (photo credit: AP)
pope benedict xvi 311
(photo credit: AP)
LONDON – A major speech by Pope Benedict XVI to parliament on the eve of Yom Kippur during his four-day visit to the UK in September will finish in time to allow Jewish parliamentarians to return home.
The speaker of the House of Lords, Lady Helene Hayman, was one of a number of people calling for the September 17 speech to be brought forward to allow Jewish parliamentarians and guests such as Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to attend.
RELATED:Opinion: Even a pope needs friendsThe pope is scheduled to deliver a keynote parliamentary speech at Westminster Hall on Yom Kippur eve, and it was feared that it would leave little time for Jewish parliamentarians to prepare for the 25-hour fast.
The Cabinet Office, who is organizing Benedict’s visit, said that the time of the event has been agreed upon, though it is not yet being released, and that there will be enough time for Jewish parliamentarians and dignitaries to return home before the fast.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in the UK said requests had been made for the speech to end 30 minutes earlier than originally planned, to enable people to get home for the start of Yom Kippur.
“The Catholic Church and Vatican team recognize the importance of observance, and the fast of Yom Kippur particularly. This was taken on board and after some shuffling and shaving of the timetable it has been adjusted and time has been found to everyone’s satisfaction,” the Church spokesman said.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office denied reports in The Guardian that the Vatican had resisted changes to the pope’s schedule as well as a report in the Jewish Chronicle on Monday that it was the Cabinet Office that had rejected requests to amend the time of the Westminster Hall speech.
“The event needs to finish in time for Jewish representatives to return home on the day; the church and parliamentary authorities have agreed to timing on the day, which has is not yet being publicized,” a Cabinet Office spokesman said.