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Vatican Shelters First Syrian Refugee Family

FILE - Pope Francis waves after his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sept. 9, 2015.

The Vatican City announced Friday that it has housed a Syrian family of four, as promised by Pope Francis.

The family – a father, mother and their two children – belongs to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, an Eastern rite. They have applied for asylum in Italy and will remain guests of the Vatican for the duration of the legal process.

The Holy See has pledged to shelter two refugee families. No details have emerged about the second family.

The Vatican said that the Syrian family arrived in Italy on September 6, the day that Pope Francis urged some 120,000 European Catholic parishes, convents and monasteries to take in at least one family escaping war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. His appeal has been met by a mixed response.

The 28-nation European Union has been struggling this year to absorb the largest influx of migrants and refugees into the continent since World War II.