Concern over keeping Southern California’s Crystal Cathedral as part of the “liturgical landscape” has the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County considering the purchase of the church property.
The announcement from the diocese came around the same time that Chapman University, an Orange County, Calif. college, offered $46 million for the landmark church that hosted the Rev. Robert H. Shuller’s “Hour of Power.”
Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which has its roots in the Protestant denomination, has been looking for an exit strategy from its debt of tens of millions of dollars ever since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last October.
Catholic Bishop Tod D. Brown has authorized The Busch Law Firm and other diocese advisers to "explore the possibilities" regarding the glass cathedral and its 35-acre property, according to a statement released last week by the diocese.
“With interest and concern, Bishop Brown has followed the news of the ongoing Crystal Cathedral Ministries bankruptcy proceedings and is concerned for the future of the landmark church remaining a functional part of the liturgical landscape for the region,” reported the California Catholic Daily on Monday.
The Diocese of Orange is looking into the construction of a cathedral in Santa Ana to accommodate about 1.2 million Catholics in Orange County. The county holds the 11th largest diocese in the United States.
"While we continue to develop plans for a cathedral in Santa Ana, it is prudent to evaluate the opportunity to engage in the pending auction of this property and to mitigate the chance that it ceases to function as a place of worship, if acquired by others," Bishop Brown stated in the release.
Marc Winthrop, the attorney representing Crystal Cathedral Ministries in the bankruptcy case, told the Orange County Register that there is a lot of interest in the property and enquiries are coming in daily.
"The diocese would obviously buy the property to use it for themselves, which will be a big impediment as far as the Crystal Cathedral is concerned," he told the Register.
However, officials with the Diocese of Orange appear to be considering the possibility of coexisting with Crystal Cathedral Ministries on the property.
“If the Diocese of Orange can prevent the loss of this important Christian ministry and what the Crystal Cathedral has represented to so many for so long – and meet its own priorities for a new cathedral, we have a duty to at least review the options," stated Bishop Brown.
“There is no change of course concerning development of the existing Cathedral site or other parishes in the community,” added the California Catholic Daily.