No change for Pope's Kol Nidre speech

By Jennifer Lipman, July 5, 2010
The trip is the pope's first official UK visit

The trip is the pope's first official UK visit

The Speaker of the House of Lords has called for a key parliamentary speech by Pope Benedict XVI to be moved from Yom Kippur eve.

Former Labour MP Baroness Hélène Hayman has appealed to the Foreign Office to move the address from the possible late afternoon slot so that Jewish dignitaries can attend without compromising their religious observance.

It will not take place on Yom Kippur itself but with sunset at just before 7pm a late start will leave little time for Jewish parliamentarians to eat before the 25-hour fast day.

However the Cabinet Office rejected requests to amend the pope’s schedule despite the clash with the holiest time in the Jewish calendar.

A spokesman said they had accounted for the speech having to finish in time for Jewish representatives to return home.

He said: “There's no argument around that. The church and parliamentary authorities have agreed the timing on the day."

The speech has been planned as part of the pope’s four-day UK visit in September.

Pope Benedict has previously faced criticism from the Jewish community for his efforts to move Pope Pius closer to sainthood. Some accuse the wartime pope of having turned a blind eye to Jewish suffering during the Holocaust.

Last updated: 2:33pm, July 5 2010