Complaining residents told that church bell should "remind them they're being prayed for"

.- A Roman Catholic priest is being fined 5,000 euros by municipal officials each time he rings his church bell for early morning Mass.

Municipal officials of Tilburg, 115 km south of Amsterdam, are responding to the complaints of residents about the bells ringing at 7:15 a.m. each day.

According to municipality spokesman Thomas Heesters, city officials urged Fr. Harm Schilder for months to stop ringing the early morning bell of the Holy Margarita Maria Church. But when the priest did not comply, the city warned that starting Aug. 16, he would be fined for every morning the bell sounds, reported The Associated Press.

Despite the threat, the bells rang out again Thursday and Friday.

''The council does not want to get involved in this - it's a house of prayer - but we have to take into account the feelings of local residents,'' Heesters was quoted as saying.

The first fine was to be delivered on Friday. If the priest refuses to pay, Heesters reportedly said, the municipality could send bailiffs to the church.

The Diocese of Den Bosch has asked the priest to stop the ringing the bell or take measures to make it quieter ''to prevent further escalation in the case.''

The parish website posted a statement, saying it is taking the complaint seriously and looking into whether it could install a smaller bell. “Legally, the parish has a right to ring the bell,” the statement said.

“People who are bothered by the bell should know that we pray for them in the Mass,” the message concluded.

The bells did not sound on Monday morning.

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