Southern California diocese considers buying Crystal Cathedral

The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif. Credit: Sarah Mount
The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif. Credit: Sarah Mount

.- The Diocese of Orange says it is potentially interested in buying a 3,000-seat glass church in Southern California that faces bankruptcy. 

The diocese announced on July 7 that it's currently looking for a building to meet the needs of the1.2 million Catholics in Orange County, the 11th largest diocese in the nation.

Although it's been planning for over 10 years to build a new, 2,500-seat cathedral in Santa Ana, the diocese has only hired an architect for the project and is now considering converting the bankrupt church in Garden Grove into a Catholic cathedral.

“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 cease to function as a place of worship, if acquired by others,” Bishop Tod D. Brown said on Tuesday.

The Crystal Cathedral –  an architectural landmark made with over 10,000 panes of glass and designed by the late Philip Johnson – would be an instant solution to the diocese's building needs and would cost roughly half the $100 million price tag for the planned cathedral.

“I have authorized our advisors to contact the appropriate parties in the proceedings to determine a possible course of action,” Bishop Brown said.

“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.”

At the same time, Bishop Brown cautioned that no official plans have been made.

“This is solely an exploratory consideration, not binding upon any party involved in the proceedings,” he said. “There is no change of course concerning development of the existing Cathedral site or other parishes in the community.”

The Crystal Cathedral, founded by pastor Robert H. Schuller, filed for bankruptcy last October. The church decided to file for Chapter 11 after some of its creditors sued for payment, according to church officials.

Documents from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana show that hundreds of creditors could be owed between $50 million and $100 million, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Diocese of Orange said that Bishop Brown has followed the news of the Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy proceedings with “concern” and is interested in the “landmark church remaining a functional part of the liturgical landscape for the region.”

Construction on the Crystal Cathedral began in 1977 and was completed in 1980 at a cost of $18 million.


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