(JTA) — Pope Benedict XVI has come under fire from Jewish groups in Britain following a report that his address to Parliament will occur on the eve of Yom Kippur.
The Cabinet Office has rejected requests to change the Sept. 17 speech to earlier in the day or to a different day during the pope’s four-day visit to Britain, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
Though the speech at Westminster Hall is scheduled to end before the start of the holy day, Jewish leaders have said it will impinge on preparations for Yom Kippur and will not allow Jewish leaders and lawmakers to eat before the start of the 25-hour fast.
"Sunset on the 17th is Yom Kippur. All that means is the event in Westminster Hall needs to finish in time for Jewish representatives to return home," a spokesperson for the Conservative government told British media. "That’s always been planned for. There’s no argument around that. The Church and parliamentary authorities have agreed the timing on the day."
Speaker of the House of Lords Baroness Helen Hayman is among the members of Parliament working to change the date of the speech.