GARDEN GROVE, Calif., July 6 (UPI) -- The Catholic Diocese of Orange said Wednesday it is looking into the possibility of trying to acquire the Crystal Cathedral complex in southern California.
The diocese said in a statement on its Web site Bishop Tod D. Brown has authorized a law firm and other lay advisers to explore whether the church should try to purchase the expansive property in Garden Grove, which is tied up in federal bankruptcy court.
The diocese said in its statement the bishop has followed the bankruptcy proceedings and is concerned about the future of the landmark facilities. It also noted the diocese does not have a cathedral to meet the needs of the 1.2 million Catholics in the county, the 11th largest diocese in the nation.
"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," Brown said.
"I have authorized our advisers to contact the appropriate parties in the proceedings to determine a possible course of action. 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."
Chapman University, a private Christian college in nearby Orange, submitted a $46 million offer Tuesday. Earlier, Greenlaw Partners, a Newport Beach real estate developer, offered the same amount. The two offers differ in some aspects, including how much they would charge the megachurch to lease back buildings for its use.
The Crystal Cathedral, founded by televangelist Robert H. Schuller, is mired in financial problems compounded by an internal feud concerning control of its operations. Schuller's son, Robert Anthony Schuller, was voted off the board three years ago and just recently claimed his father also has been booted. However, Crystal Cathedral spokesman John Charles has said the elder Schuller remains board chairman emeritus.