Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., formerly known as Crystal Cathedral, was visited on Wednesday by a group of international Catholic leaders who took a tour of the massive building and shared their excitement over its future potential once the current Crystal Cathedral congregation leaves campus.
Hank Evers, director of development and communications for the Orange Catholic Foundation, said he believes the church has "world-wide implications" and the Diocese of Orange has the chance to "create here the most significant Catholic cultural center in the world outside of the Vatican," as reported by The Orange County Register.
The cathedral, which in the past few years has been embroiled in debt and leadership struggles, is currently being renovated after being sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in February. On Wednesday, bishops, archbishops and cardinals from around the world toured the massive structure before a scheduled meeting with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service organization, The OC Register reported. The visitors were given a tour of the 34-plus acre campus.
According to a report by Architecture Week, the Crystal Cathedral was designed by Philip Johnson. The glass-paneled palace, or house of worship, is shaped like a four-pointed star and measures 207 by 415 feet and stands tall at 128 feet.
The visiting church leaders were all impressed by the buildings, and shared very positive thoughts about the future of Christ Cathedral.
"This is a property that defies imagination," said Rob Neal, interim chief operating officer of the Christ Catholic Cathedral Corporation.
"We never appreciated the impact this campus had," he added. "It's a holy place ... but it does have good acoustics."
"[It is a] great opportunity for evangelization," said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. "It's an overwhelming structure. Beautiful, uplifting, inspiring. The great Catholic tradition can be experienced here, made to come alive here. That opens a lot of possibilities."
"It's mind-boggling," added Archbishop Daniel Cronin of Connecticut.
Christ Cathedral still faces a number of obstacles before it reaches such heights, however.
Most recently, a congregant of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed a claim in bankruptcy court over what he feels are his violated civil and religious rights. He is seeking $5.6 million from the megachurch's founder, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, and $30 billion from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. He claims Crystal Cathedral Ministries board members were at fault for the church's bankruptcy, and that the church and its cemetery have been desecrated now that it's under non-Protestant ownership.
The original Crystal Cathedral congregation, no longer under the leadership of the Schullers, still worships at the campus, but plans to move to the nearby St. Callistus Catholic Church by June 2013 under a special lease agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.