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Catholic diocese to bid on Crystal Cathedral

by Brad A. Greenberg

July 7, 2011 | 7:42 pm

In what is starting to feel like daily Crystal Cathedral news, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange is considering buying the landmark church site as the home for it’s new diocesan cathedral.

Here’s the word from the Los Angeles Times:

The announcement by Orange Bishop Tod Brown came one day after Chapman University made a $46-million bid for the 40-acre site. The Crystal Cathedral had earlier reached a tentative agreement for a sale and lease-back deal with a real estate developer, subject to approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Kwan.

A sale to the Catholic Church would solve a longstanding problem for the Orange Diocese, which has no central cathedral for its 1.2-million parishioners. It has been planning for more than a decade to build a new, 2,500-seat cathedral in Santa Ana, but has gotten only as far as hiring an architect.

The Crystal Cathedral, designed by the late Philip Johnson, would provide an instant, 3,000-seat architectural landmark at roughly half the $100 million that was previously estimated for the Santa Ana project.

This is a surprising possibility. The Crystal Cathedral is very not Catholic, and such a purchase would likely be no better for the congregation than the tentative agreement to sell the property to a real estate developer. Maybe even worse because under that scenario the church would have leased back use of the sanctuary.

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