GARDEN GROVE, CA (AP).-
A Roman Catholic diocese made a $50 million cash offer to buy Southern California's financially struggling Crystal Cathedral
, officials said Friday. The Diocese of Orange said its proposal could pull the megachurch, which was founded more than 50 years ago by pioneering televangelist Rev. Robert H. Schuller, out of bankruptcy by the end of the year.
The Crystal Cathedral is trying to sell the property and lease back portions of it for use for services to help erase a $36 million mortgage and settle nearly $10 million in unsecured debt. The church has been plagued by financial troubles after a disastrous leadership transition and a devastating slump in donations.
The church is also mulling several other offers. A real estate investment firm offered $46 million, as did Chapman University, which is considering building a medical school on the sprawling campus. A Norco-based church, My Father's House Church International, also made a $50 million offer for the property, which includes the famous glass-spired church designed by architect Philip Johnson.
The diocese, which is looking for a less expensive alternative to building a new cathedral for its 1.2 million parishioners, said its proposal would allow the Crystal Cathedral to lease portions of the property for three years at below market rates.
At the end of the lease, the ministry would have to find a new location with the help of the diocese.
The bid "respects the legacy Rev. Schuller worked so hard to establish," Diocese of Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown said in a statement. "Our offer also clearly accommodates future diocesan needs for a cathedral and modern administrative campus."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.