日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【February 2020 No.406】From the General Secretary's Desk: Pope Francis Visits Hiroshima and Tokyo


On Sunday, Nov. 24, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church held a “Gathering for Peace” at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and on Monday, Nov. 25, officiated at the “Papal Mass” at Tokyo Dome. Those of us from Protestant churches and representatives from other Japanese religions were invited to these gatherings and given the opportunity to hear the Pope’s message and to participate in the corporate prayer. At the meeting in Hiroshima, Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo also sat on the platform and received greetings from Pope Francis and shook hands with him. In Tokyo, in the mass that included the corporate prayers of believers from various Asian countries, liturgical scripture readings, and ceremonial greetings, there were many Kyodan-related persons who were invited and attended.


The message of Pope Francis at Hiroshima, on the one hand, was that “the victims who experienced the atomic bomb can appeal to all the world together against the threat and inhumanity of atomic weapons beyond all human difference and religion.” I heard that he also pointed out the irrationality and criminal nature of those who acquiesce in the preparation for the use of atomic weapons while mouthing peace, urging Japan to awaken from seeking a peaceful life under the nuclear umbrella of the United States. I was impressed by the stance of Pope Francis, who greeted the A-bomb victims at the beginning of the meeting, taking their hands while listening to the each one’s remarks.


The field and stands at Tokyo Dome were filled to capacity as Pope Francis appeared, riding in a car and circling the hall amidst the ovation of a crowd of 50,000 people. He had the car stop along the way when he saw children, took them up in his arms, and blessed them. Then he went up to the platform, where he presided over the worship service. In his sermon, he took scripture from the beginning of Genesis and the Lord Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, first of all pointing out the importance of climbing the mountain with the Lord Jesus and from there looking back upon oneself and the world; then with thankfulness and joy accepting the world and the life that God has made, as it is, and accepting not only one’s own life but also accepting all the life that fills others and the world; then realizing that we are called to live together, being led by the prayer: “Oh Lord, in order to protect all life, in order to open the way for the best possible future, take hold of us by your power and light.” Pope Francis well understands the disregarded, devalued person’s pain and loneliness, which is spreading particularly among the youth of Japan, and speaks to their hearts, “Don't worry. Seek God’s kingdom and righteousness”—words that make us feel his desire to deliver the light of the words of the Lord Jesus. His final appeal to Christians that the work of the church in today’s society is to become a “field hospital” to receive wounded persons made a strong impact on me. I rejoice that through the visit of Pope Francis to Japan, the Word has been spoken, has been heard, and has become an opportunity to bring life to the closed-hearted insensitivity to grace from above that is evident within present-day Japanese society and among Roman Catholics as well as Protestants. (Tr. RT)


                           —Akiyama Toru, general secretary



             秋 山  徹





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