You should be up anyway

If his feud with the city of Tilburg in the Netherlands lasts much longer, the Rev. Harm Schilder may have to summon parishioners to services by telephone. By now, the rector of Holy Margarita Maria Roman Catholic Church will have been fined $40,482 for ringing its bells to call the faithful to mass each morning. It's not that the city elders are anti-Catholic – "The council does not want to be involved in this; it's a house of prayer," a spokesman said – but they thought they should be responsive to other residents, who complain that the bells are too loud and ring too early. So, the council warned that, beginning Aug. 16, Father Schilder would be billed €5,000 ($6,747) for each day he didn't at least "reduce the volume." Even his diocesan superiors seem to have taken the town's side, urging that the pealing cease or that he otherwise "prevent further escalation in the case." But as of last Friday at 7:15 a.m., the bells were ringing as usual. For his part, the cleric apparently can see both sides of the issue. A statement posted on the church's website seeks to assure those concerned that there will be an investigation to determine whether installing a smaller bell is feasible. But it also reminds neighbors that, "legally, the parish has a right" to sound off each morning. Oh, and in the meantime: "People who are bothered by the bell should know that we pray for them."

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