It’s official: Crystal Cathedral is Catholic

Or, at least, legally it is.  It’s now owned by the Catholic Church.  Details:

The Crystal Cathedral, one of the nation’s best-known Protestant churches, is now owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

Escrow closed Friday afternoon on the $57.5 million court-ordered sale, the diocese said.

The congregation led by Robert H. Schuller and his family can continue to worship in the landmark church for three years under a lease with the diocese.

But when the congregation leaves, the cathedral — for three decades the place where Schuller preached about “possibility thinking” and angels soared on wires in made-for-Hollywood Christmas pageants — will become the spiritual home for 1.2 million Orange County Catholics.

And it will acquire a new name. Bishop Tod Brown said he will ask members of the diocese to suggest the name.

His only condition: “It has to be something dealing with Christ.”

Brown turned 75 last November and, as required, submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI. He has been trying for years to build a cathedral for the diocese. The chance to acquire one – an architectural landmark – at a bargain price came more or less by chance.

“Our God is a God of surprises,” Brown said, and “certainly the biggest surprise I’ve ever received from God is the Crystal Cathedral.”

The diocese has used Holy Family Church in Orange as its cathedral since its division from the Los Angeles archdiocese in 1976. It purchased a cathedral site in south Santa Ana, now used by Christ Our Savior Church, about eight years ago.

Congregation insiders, including Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman, Schuller’s daughter, tried to derail the sale to the diocese last week. They claimed the congregation had a 99-year lease with bankrupt Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which had agreed to the cathedral’s sale in bankruptcy court.

But no copy of the lease could be found. So on Monday U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kwan ordered the sale to go forward.

Read more.

Any suggestions for a new name?


  1. Christ the Light got taken by Oakland, unfortunately.

  2. Christ Our Light would work for sure ( any restriction on using the same name in multiple dioceses?)

  3. Christ, The Author Of Life, patronal feast on Easter Sunday.

    Christ, The Morning Star, patronal feast on Epiphany

    I’m aware of no restrictions on dioceses nearby using the same name, but practically, perhaps they would want to be different. Otherwise, I think “Christ, Light of the World” would be good.

  4. David J White says:

    Given the transformation of the Crystal Cathedral from a Protestant worship space to a Catholic one, how about Cathedral of the Transfiguration?

  5. St. Rita is the patron saint of baseball, and they’ll need all the protection they can get from fly balls.

  6. Christ’s Roman Catholic Crystal Cathedral?

    Never liked the deal, but now that is done, well so be it. I think is emblematic of the decline of the Evangelical movement as represented by Schuller, Falwell, Robertson and others.

  7. Fiergenholt says:


    “I think is emblematic of the decline of the Evangelical movement as represented by Schuller, Falwell, Robertson and others.”

    I do not agree with you at all here. Of that crowd, I had far more pastoral respect for Schuller than I did the other two but there are other folks who would object to you putting Falwell and Robertson in the same category.

    My reason is politics. I do not recall Schuller ever getting involved at all. Both Falwell and Robertson were deeply involved in the hyperbole of politics — particularly at the National/Presidential level — and that experience seriously compromised their integrity.

    But maybe your reason is economics. Even there, I believe Schuller’s ministry had far more integrity that those of the other two.

  8. Deacon Norb says:

    A name. . . .?

    Why “Lumen Christi” of course!

  9. naturgesetz says:

    I think Christ the King is still a title which needs to be kept in the minds of the faithful as our society becomes increasingly secularist.

    We may not experience persecution as virulent as that in early 20th Century Mexico, but we will need the fortitude of Bl. Miguel Pro and the Cristeros.

    Viva Cristo Rey!

  10. I liked that Deacon Norb chose a name in Latin. I also like “Benedictus Dominus Jesu Christus”.

  11. Deacon Norb says:

    Yes, it is in Latin but the real reason I chose it is that this is the proclamation of the Deacon on the Holy Saturday Vigil Mass as he enters the darkened church with the lit Pascal Candle for the first time.

    It just strikes me as being very appropriate.

  12. Sue from Buffalo says:

    I was there more than 20 years ago for a women’s conference on possibility thinking. (That was before my conversion). The church is far more beautiful than the pictures show. Rev. Schuller was the real deal. A very prayerful man and I was privileged to meet him. His children, I don’t know. I wasn’t impressed with his son and I never saw his daughter.
    This deal for the church is wonderful. It is a gift from God and should appreciated for that.

  13. I think “Lumen Christi” is an excellent choice!

  14. I want the window-washing contract!

  15. No, I’m in the Diocese of Syracuse, and our neighboring diocese, Albany, has the same cathedral name, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

  16. I want the heating/cooling contract.

  17. Come, Holy Spirit Cathedral
    All Things New Cathedral
    Gloria Cathedral

  18. Lomen Christi is a runaway favorite.

  19. oops! ‘lumen’

  20. Rudy , ” decline of the Evangelical movement ? “. Where did that come from?.
    “True ” evangelical churches are thriving! Rev. Falwell’s church ( now led by his son ) is doing quite well because the ” whole ” counsel of God is being preached.
    A true ” evangelical “church emphasizes the ” authority ” of the Gospel unlike the Roman church which puts the pope , man’s traditions and a host of unbiblical rules to guide them. The Roman church seems to have to drag people off the streets to fill the pews because so many people have left for many reasons .
    I would suggest to you to attend a true ” Bible believing ” church to hear the uncompomising Word of God. Don’t worry it’s ok !!! There won’t be a formal ecclesiastical curse or ban. It’s ok !!

  21. WWJD – what should I do with 57.5 MILLION Dollars… buy an iconic building for power and stature, OR…. feed the hungry, help the needy, build more shelters?

    Dilemas dilemas!
    Nah… I want pretty glass!

  22. Yes, Christ the King and his opulence should be a great message!

  23. The root idea of the cathedral is intimately connected to the root idea of the bishop and his diocese. In ancient times, every Sunday, every single member of the diocese’s faithful went to church at the place where the bishop celebrated Mass. All the Christians in that city were visibly one.

    So no… it’s not about power and stature at all. It’s about having a church home big enough to let the faithful gather. Orange County’s a fairly big diocese that has made do with fairly small churches for its cathedral; finding a ready-made one saves time, money, and precious natural resources.

    Secondarily, there are evangelization advantages. Thirdly, it preserves a beloved Christian place of worship as a Christian place of worship. Fourthly, it preserves beauty, which is an attribute and gift of God. All of these things are about the precious dearness of a building which ordinary people loved and built, not about some kind of looming super-robot church of doomydoomness.

  24. Well, obviously the diocesan patron saint should have seniority.

    Then there’s St. Guilhem of Orange (aka St. William of Gellone), who lived an awesomely tough life as one of Charlemagne’s nobles, did all the knightly things including being a good husband and father and count, did warlike deeds worthy of whole song cycles (or geste cycles, anyway), and then capped it off by becoming a humble monk after his wife died. Giving Orange County to the care of a very human man who’s also a legend and saint would be fitting.

    The Christian imagery behind both Abbe Suger’s invention of the Gothic style, and the Crystal Cathedral, is that the New Jerusalem is described [Rev. 21:18-21] as being made of “pure gold like pure glass” and with its streets made of “pure gold like transparent glass.” (Sunlight protection for astronaut helmets depends on the principle that pure beaten gold can be seen through like glass, btw, so it’s not a farfetched simile.) There’s also the “sea of glass”, of course, and Ezekiel’s firmament of crystal [Ezek. 1:22], and the water of life flowing from the Throne, which is also like crystal [Rev. 22:1] and which shows up in Ezekiel flowing out of the Temple. Something along the lines of St. John’s Cathedral would be good for this.

    I suppose it would cause a ruckus if you renamed the Crystal Cathedral “Holy Nativity”, on the grounds that Jesus preserved Mary’s virginity at His Birth by leaving her womb “like a sunbeam through glass.” But it would be fitting. (The simile was made famous by St. Augustine and a lot of medieval Irish and other poets. And it’s more poetic a conjecture than “By Baby Jesus healing His mother along the way more continuously than Wolverine healing himself in a knife fight.”)

    These are just some ideas, partly serious and partly not. I hope they find a good name for it.

  25. Deacon Steve says:

    The poor deserve a beautiful place to worship. The priests in the diocese sent a letter to the Bishop when it was learned the first choice for locations was in a Rich neighborhood with little to no access to publisc transportation because that is where the donors wanted it. The bishop listened to the priests and found a location in a poorer area of OC, near public transportation with plenty of parking for those who can afford to drive. This is a good choice for locations and the people of the diocese should have a cathedral church for their bishop. And please don’t forget this isn’t money that is being taken from programs to help the poor. The money is mostly being donated for the purpose of building/obtaining a cathedral. The money wouldn’t be available for other projects.

  26. naturgesetz says:

    “WWJD – what should I do with 57.5 MILLION Dollars… buy an iconic building for power and stature, OR…. feed the hungry, help the needy, build more shelters?”

    WWJS — What Would Judas Say? John 12:4-5

  27. naturgesetz says:

    Christ the King reigns from the Cross — not exactly opulence, IMO.

  28. robert rodman says:

    PERFECT suggestion – “Cathedral of the Transfiguration”. Oh the irony!

    Hope Fred Swann will come back now and give some more of his fantastic Organ Concerts on that earth shaking Bentley of Pipe Organs!

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