The Catholic Diocese of Orange County has boosted its bid for the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral to $57.5 million, and hopes to make the gleaming 3,000-seat church its own county-wide cathedral. The other key bidder locked in a battle for the site is Chapman University, which hopes to use the 40-acre grounds as a satellite campus. It has offered $51.5 million for the site, but is now also offering to allow the Crystal Cathedral Ministries the option of leasing back some of the core buildings, including the cathedral, for a nominal $1 a month, reports the Los Angeles Times. Several in the evangelical congregation are pushing for Chapman because they want the church and a cemetery on the grounds to remain in Protestant hands.
But a lawyer for the family of the controversial ministry founder, Hour of Power televangelist Robert Schuller, prefers the larger Catholic offering so the Crystal congregation can settle some of his clients' claims, reports AP. Schuller and his wife are expecting to be paid at least $290,000 a year for life, or they're threatening to sue for intellectual property rights. The ultra-modern, 10,000-pane cathedral has been a gleaming symbol of the "power of positive thinking" ministry. But falling contributions, dwindling interest by younger people and battles with the Schullers forced the the ministry board to declare bankruptcy last year. (Read more Robert Schuller stories.)