A Catholic Crystal Cathedral?

Maybe.  Is someone up for “flipping” a cathedral?

The Diocese of Orange, California is looking to build a new cathedral — but there may already be one that’s been built and is ready to go…or at least, ready to become the American church’s biggest and most expensive convert:

The Roman Catholic Diocese is exploring the idea of buying the Crystal Cathedral, which has been struggling financially for the last four years and is in bankruptcy.

The Diocese of Orange released a statement Wednesday morning saying that Bishop Tod D. Brown has authorized The Busch Law Firm and other diocese advisers to “explore the possibilities” regarding Garden Grove’s glass cathedral.

This announcement comes the day after Chapman University put in a $46 million offer to put a health science campus on the cathedral’s 35-acre property.

The Diocese of Orange is looking into building a cathedral in Santa Ana to meet the needs of about 1.2 million Catholics in Orange County, which is 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 said in the release.

Brown said he has authorized his advisers to contact the cathedral’s representatives to take the next step. He said his goal is to prevent the “loss of an important Christian ministry.” The diocese has a duty to at least review the options, he said.

Marc Winthrop, the attorney representing Crystal Cathedral Ministries in the bankruptcy case, said there is a lot of interest from different parties and enquiries are coming in “on a daily basis.”

“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 said.

Winthrop said the Catholic Church would use the cathedral’s core buildings including the all-glass sanctuary, which would make it impossible for Crystal Cathedral to continue as a ministry.

The diocese is interested in the cathedral because it is a landmark in Orange County, said Steve Bohannon, spokesman for the Diocese of Orange.

“Also, none of the other entities that have expressed interest in purchasing the Crystal Cathedral are religious institutions,” he said.

If the deal were to go through, the diocese would have no need for another cathedral in Santa Ana, Bohannon said.

“But at this time, it’s too far away,” he said.

Read the rest.

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16 responses to “A Catholic Crystal Cathedral?”

  1. In all honesty, that building looks like a major safety hazard. All it takes is say a loud plane overhead, or a major earthquake, and I can envision giand shards of sharp glass falling. And yes it is horridly modern. I’ve seen better modern churches (externally).

  2. Well, am glad to see the Dioceses of Orange is doing well financially (no sarcasm intended). That’s a lot of money.

  3. I am not opposed to contemporary worship spaces; I do actually love the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. That said, I have a hard time seeing this one work, but that is just me.

  4. Well, obviously I’ve never seen it except on TV, but I do think that would be pretty darned cool for us to have.

    The patron saint of glassmakers is St. Luke the Evangelist (being an art and paint guy). But the obvious reference is to various crystal features of Heaven and the New Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s good on that:

    “And over the heads of the living creatures was the likeness of the firmament, as the appearance of crystal terrible to behold, and it stretched out over their heads above.”

  5. Well…I can’t imagine all of the changes that would be needed to make it into a worship space suitable for a celebration of the Eucharist…but to have that Ruffatti/Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ…would be just this side of heaven.

  6. Where would they put the Stations of the Cross? IMO, spend the money on brick and mortar and build a real church if you need to. This glass menagerie looks sinister.

  7. Why not?It’s actually pretty. It’s nicer than anything else Catholics have right now and it certainly beats that ugly thing in LA. n Besides all you need to do is put a table on the stage and you’ll be set for Mass.

  8. Mass has been celebrated there before- and Santa Margarita Catholic High School has had many graduations there.
    It is certainly beautiful and I think it would be appropriate for the celebration of the Eucharist.
    I’m just concerned that the Diocese of Orange is spending big money in a down economy…most Catholic parishes are down in donations at least 10% and have laid off staff…as has the Diocese.

  9. Mass has been celebrated there!? When? WHY!!!
    The irony of the RC Church purchasing it would be delicious of course, but I must agree. It is really ghastly, and I hear very expensive to heat and cool. But if we bought it we could change the name to the “Silica Basilica.”

  10. I like some contemporary churches, but I am not sure this is a good choice for a new cathedral. This is based on some pictures online. The organ does look awesome.

  11. Tom (#11),
    Apparently the Crystal Cathedral isn’t expensive to heat and cool afterall. According to a report quoted at http://forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=8083551&postcount=18 : “The Crystal Cathedral sanctuary was constructed and occupied without air conditioning or heating systems. The glass skin is uninsulated and the consequently large envelope heat transfer rate is increased by natural ventilation through motorized operable panes scattered across the facades and through the 90 foot tall door near the pulpit. Although the occupancy density is high, there is little plug and light load in the sanctuary, meaning that little heat is generated by electrical equipment or lighting, especially since little lighting is required during a typical daytime service. Finally, the highly reflective glazing admits only 10% of the incident solar energy.”

  12. Thanks Will E.
    I am just up from the pool at the condos where I live, and a neighbor whose father is a minister of the DR faith, and who knows all about the problems the CC is having, was actually thrilled that the RC Church is thinking of taking it over. How telling that the first thing she asked me is where the Stations of the Cross would go. But at least we could make them in cool (or warm) comfort.

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