Jewish leaders have protested strongly in private over the timing of an address by Pope Benedict XVI to the Houses of Parliament.
They are angry that the event is due to end just before the start of prayer and fasting to mark Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the faith's calendar. Observant Jews are required to be at synagogue at sunset the night before Yom Kippur. Yet the papal address to 1,800 parliamentarians and faith leaders in Westminster Hall is due to end barely an hour before dusk on 17 September.
The timing will prevent the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, and other Jewish leaders from being in the audience for the speech on reconciliation of faiths.
Attempts to soothe the row resulted in a compromise under which the Chief Rabbi would attend a lecture by the Pope earlier in the day. In a statement, Lord Sacks insisted that he did not regard the timing as a "slight" on the Jewish community.
However, The Independent understands that feelings ran high among Jewish leaders over the timing of the address. One source said: "They were not just angry – they went thermonuclear. There's an irony that the Pope is speaking about trust and reconciliation, but representatives of a major faith will be not there to hear him.
"No one is going to trust to luck with London Underground in the hope that they can get back home in time for sunset."Reuse content