Vincent Nichols: We will rise to the Pope's challenge to host refugees

Cardinal Nichols responds to Pope's call to house refugeesMazur/

The Catholic Church is offering to house a large proportion of the 20,000 refugees coming to Britain.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, yesterday called on UK Catholics to respond "in prayer and in real, practical action."

This follows Pope Francis' call on Sunday to the Catholic Church.

"May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family – starting with my diocese of Rome," Francis said.

The Vatican will house two Syrian families.

Nichols said the Church will work to "ensure the effective reception and long-term resettlement of these desperate people."

Speaking earlier this week to ITV, Nichols responded to the photo of Aylan Kurdi saying, "People are beginning to see the human face of this suffering, so it's no longer an abstract problem of people who are on the scrounge, it's not."

"It's people who are desperate for the sake of their families, their elderly, their youngsters, their children, and the more we see that the more the opportunity for a political response that's a bit more generous is growing.

"What is screaming out is the human tragedy of this problem."

Nichols said the Church would work with the government and other authorities in its response.

Specific details about how the parishes will carry out the hosting programme will be released in the future, Nichols said.

A prayer vigil for refugees will take place outside Westminster Cathedral at 7pm this evening.