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The recent NPR news item Pope Francis Expresses Sorrow But No Apology For Indigenous School Deaths In Canada includes the following quote:

"We commend to the Lord the souls of all the children who have died in the Canadian residential schools, and we pray for the grief-stricken Indigenous families and communities of Canada," Francis added.

What does it mean when the Pope says "We commend to the Lord the souls..."? Is this just an expression of how we should feel? Is it a prayer, hoping for, or asking that the souls will reach heaven? Does the pope have some special power that can be invoked to help these souls get there?

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Commend:

To entrust or commit to the care of someone else.

Thus: "We entrust and commit these souls unto the Lord's care / keeping / mercy."

Speaking as a non-Catholic, the Pope most certainly does not have any special power over the disposition of the departed. Nor would most Christians, I think, believe that this expression (which is used by most Christians AFAIK; see most Christian funeral services) implies anything of the sort. It's just a more elaborate way of saying the most important prayer a Christian can pray: "Kyrie eleison" ("Lord, have mercy").

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