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.