The Catholics won this round: A bankruptcy judge ruled yesterday that Crystal Cathedral will be sold to Orange County’s Roman Catholic Diocese for $57.5 million, meaning the iconic Protestant building will likely become a Catholic one soon. Chapman University was competing with the diocese to buy the property, and even raised its bid to $59 million, but the Crystal Cathedral board preferred the diocese.
Founder Robert Schuller explained in a letter to the court that he feared the university would use the cathedral in the future for nonreligious purposes. The Los Angeles Times talked to volunteers and congregants at the church who said they felt “devastated” and “thrown under the bus” by the decision, which will mean they will ultimately have to stop attending services in the church. The diocese will lease core buildings back to the church for just three years, whereas Chapman had been offering up to 20 years.