Catholic Diocese Tries to Block Crystal Cathedral Sale to University

Monday, 31 Oct 2011 05:45 PM

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, Calif., has filed a petition in bankruptcy court to block the sale of the famed Crystal Cathedral’s 40-acre campus to Chapman University, stating that the plan will not pay creditors in full and will set up the ministry for failure.

The diocese's offer of $53.6 million is a better bid for the Crystal Cathedral property than the $50 million offered by Chapman University, its attorneys argue in the petition, according to the Orange County Register.

Last week, administrators at the bankrupt cathedral, which Robert H. Schuller founded, announced that their board had selected Chapman as the preferred buyer.

The difference between the two plans is that Chapman offers the church the option to lease back core church buildings and buy them back within five years, while the diocese's plan calls for a three-year leasing plan and proposes that the ministry move to an alternative worship space the diocese offered at a reduced rate, according to the diocese's petition.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries then would have the option to buy that property at 90 percent of the market rate, the filings state.

The diocese requests that the court order Crystal Cathedral and the creditors' committee to accept its offer rather than the Chapman offer or require the property to be sold via an auction.

Chapman officials were not available for comment to the Register.

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