Court backs ban on early-morning church bells
A priest southern Dutch city of Tilburg has been banned from ringing his church bells for Mass every day at 7.15am. A court backed local residents, who object to the early-morning bell ringing, and have been embroiled in a row with Father Harm Schilder for the past four years.
Last year Tilburg city councils tightened its noise rules, limiting church bells before 7.30am to 80 decibels. The priest at Tilburg’s Margarita Maria Church had won a previous court case over his bell-ringing rights, but this time the court supported the council's rule change. The judge dismissed the priest’s claims that it was unfeasible to quieten the bells, and the noise limit made worship impossible.
Father Schilder describes the ruling as “surprising and disappointing”. He claims Tilburg’s rules are stricter than elsewhere in the Netherlands, and is considering an appeal. A spokesperson for the diocese of Den Bosch said the verdict was regrettable, and bell ringing for morning services was a good tradition.
However, the church’s neighbours have welcomed the court's decision. “For the time being, we’ve got back the peace and quiet we’ve been missing for years,” said one local resident.
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