Austrian lawyer writes to Pope over cathedral bells that ring every 15 minutes

VIENNA (AFP) - A lawyer in Austria said Thursday he has written directly to Pope Francis seeking his intervention in a legal battle over the ringing of bells by Linz Cathedral every 15 minutes, even at night.

"Holy Father!" lawyer Wolfgang List's letter, seen by AFP, begins.

"The bells in the Linz Cathedral clock tower ring every quarter of an hour at night. Between 10pm and 6am... they ring 222 times.

"We therefore beseech you, Holy Father, to intervene... to ensure that human right of the people of Linz to a healthy and refreshing night's sleep is respected and that the bells no longer chime at night."

The lawyer's client lives 75m from the cathedral in Austria's third largest city and says he barely gets a wink of sleep because of the bells - leading, he says, to health problems.

But Linz's bishop has refused to stop the ringing, even at night, despite what the lawyer calls efforts towards dialogue and compromise "in the Christian sprit".

The man has filed a lawsuit which was due to go before court on Friday.

"We hope that the new kind of Church leadership that you, Holy Father, have shown in your papacy... can be an example for the religious leadership of the Austrian Church," the letter said.

"We don't want a legal battle. We just want peace and quiet".

The Vatican was yet to respond, the lawyer's office said.