• 2015.10.30
  • The Pope’s Visit to the U.S.
Recently, the Pope made a visit to the U.S. First making his stop in Cuba, he then traveled to Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. The entire U.S. had become caught up with the Pope’s visit from even days before he arrived.

Since the Pope is the highest-ranking bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, I was vaguely imagining if he was similar to an ajari of Japanese Buddhism, or perhaps the chief priest at the Ise Grand Shrine or the Emperor of Shinto. I realized, though, that they’re not quite the same.

Streetlamps with the flags of the United States of America
the Vatican and Washington, D.C.

Religiously speaking, they probably are the same or similar, but they’re completely different in terms of scale. The Catholic Church is said to have around 1.2 billion believers in the world, boasting the greatest number of believers out of the many religions that exist. I asked a Protestant friend of mine if Protestants also revere the Pope. His answer was, “Although not as much as Catholics do, we still do revere him. If you were to ask how interested we are in the Pope, well, it’s kind of vague.” I’m not a Catholic. In fact, I’m not a Christian for that matter. It’s probably completely different from the earnest desire of Christians who wish to see him, but I also have the desire to see the Pope, and would consider it an honor to have the opportunity to see him at least once in my lifetime. So, I decided to go out and enjoy this air surrounding the Pope’s visit.

People rushing to the station after seeing the parade. Conception,Can you get an idea for the size of the crowds?
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate located inside the Catholic University of America,where the Pope later visited to celebrate Mass.

The roads where the Pope would travel on were all regulated with inspection points for baggage. They even checked my diaper bag, thoroughly inspecting its contents one by one.

010_151030_15Of the passionate believers that were there that day, some had traveled all the way from Central and South America to see the Pope and others had spent days on foot traveling from another state. Many of these people had been adjusting their entire travel plans in accordance with the Pope’s schedule. Seeing the lines of overcrowding reporters and cameras from television stations around the country, I wondered while being tossed about by the crowd if this was similar to those groups that follow idols. As the Pope moves, so do the believers, as well as those trying to sell goods to these crowds so as not to miss this golden opportunity.
All the while, the anti-Christians also take advantage of this opportunity to give their speeches. Just one word out of the Pope’s mouth can move not only a single country but also the entire world.

While living in the U.S., I encounter many opportunities when I can sense that Japan is a very small nation, for better or for worse. Seeing all the people who came wishing to get just a glimpse of the Pope, as well as people who were unable to see him but listened with tearful eyes as he spoke on live broadcast, I found myself deeply appreciating the magnitude of the Pope who heads the world’s oldest and largest organization.


Moved to Washington, D.C., in 2012 after getting married. Due to her husband’s work, shortly thereafter they moved to Oahu, Hawaii, then returned to Washington, D.C., in 2015. She lives together with her husband, their son born near the end of 2014 and one Shiba dog.

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