This rendering shows the sanctuary of Christ Cathedral. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in Garden Grove, Calif. unveiled design plans for the Christ Cathedral, which will address the complex needs of the 1.3 million member diocese. Photo courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange

Look Inside: The transformation of the Crystal Cathedral

(RNS) Roman Catholic leaders in Southern California unveiled designs Wednesday for the transformation of Robert Schuller's famed Crystal Cathedral into Christ Cathedral, the new mother church for the sprawling Diocese of Orange.

Schuller's Hour of Power ministry surrendered the landmark 1981 Philip Johnson building last year after filing for bankruptcy. Catholic leaders scooped up the campus for a cool $50 million, and workers are busy transforming the glass-and-steel building into a space more fit for Catholic liturgy. The new Catholic cathedral is scheduled to open in 2016.

Video and photos courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

Click on any photo below to view a slideshow of the Christ Cathedral.


  1. Larry,

    Is this what the Vatican Office meant by becoming more transparent?



  2. Some bishop’s egomaniacal misadventure.

    Add to the $50 mil that they paid for this another $25 mil in renovation. All paid for by tax-deductible donations. The church pays no sales or use taxes. In other words, we ALL subsidize this enterprise.

  3. Why thank you, David Cary Hart, for this outstanding piece of misfortune.

    And may I remind the “egomaniacs” within this that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.


  4. Looks like they are trying to build another Vatican City … the other was not “modern” enough for those desiring the new look. I wonder if they will choose a different style of dress, as well.


  5. I think David Cary Hart has a point about the tax breaks given to churches. Why should organisations be given tax breaks for religion? Why should this be an established fact? Isn’t this inconsistent with the First Amendment?

  6. But that’s what we Catholics need more of: Fire!–the Fire of the Holy Spirit.

  7. At least your taxes are going ultimately to build and create. My taxes are being used to kill and destroy through the huge funds sent to Planned Parenthood some of whose founders were among the early medical Nazis and pure bottom dwelling racists of the worst sort. But the mainstream media rarely publishes this truth.

  8. I have no problem with the tax breaks when it comes to churches as long as it only applies to the church building itself and not to anything else. When churches act like PACs, commercial real estate developers, hospitals, schools, banks or any other mundane entity not related to the administration of religious rites, it has no business glomming off of public tax breaks.

  9. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw brimstones!

  10. The church does pay taxes! Research it, brothers and sisters!

  11. Sure, when the question of tax breaks for religion comes up you think of the people faith it and getting wealthy off religion. But for the Baha’is where I live, where we meet in small groups in each others’ houses since we can’t really afford a house of worship of our own, those tax breaks are a good thing.

    Why do you or the government have any right to the small amount of money we pool together for events or charity??

    Sure, there are people who get rich off of religion. But unfortunately, those people will continue to get rich regardless of whether-or-not they are taxed. Removing tax breaks would only slightly hinder large religions and for-profit megachurches, who can EASILY afford the tax. However for small religious groups like my own, taxing us means we can do significantly less. It would unfairly give an advantage to rich religions, while effectively discriminating against poorer ones.

  12. What a twist of logic! Tax exemption does not mean that governments are supporting the churches — it is a practical aspect of the separation of church and state. No dollars flow from government to church — therefore no violation of the First Amendment. But dollars from churches definitely help reduce the burden on government to care for the needs of the population; think of what churches do — counseling; food pantries; help with everything from furniture and clothing to prescriptions, gas, utilities, and housing. Not to mention the greater benefit to society by teaching morality, respect for authority, responsibility, and of having a stable family. Note — until now I haven’t even mentioned the spiritual aspect! What government gets in return for tax exemption is well worth it. Oh, and by the way, I’m not Catholic…..

  13. ” But dollars from churches definitely help reduce the burden on government to care for the needs of the population; think of what churches do”

    Assuming services from religious groups come with no strings attached. Few really do so.

    Catholic Hospitals frequently put religious dogma over the well-being and healthcare needs of patients, there is many times a sectarian element to providing services. Shelter and food comes with a sermon. Several religious charities took issue with atheist volunteers willing to donate their time and resources for them.

    Food banks (who by their nature provide services to everyone) tend to be exception rather than the common example. Religious groups providing such services also tend to feel entitled to engage in sectarian discriminatory practices in employment

    “Not to mention the greater benefit to society by teaching morality, respect for authority, responsibility, and of having a stable family. ”

    Religion does not teach morality, nor respect for authority. It teaches fear of authority and adherence to arbitrary rules. Its also common for religious teaching about stable family life to be twisted in order to enable domestic abuse.

  14. Uh, listen up you all: That Crystal Cathedral was built by Robert Schuller, who DID get rich from religion. His “empire” couldn’t make it through the next generation. He and his son couldn’t get along well enough to keep the building going. They filed for bankruptcy in 2010. The Catholic Diocese of Orange will renovate that building and use it for all the people of God, not just one man’s personal empire.
    I bet most people reading this couldn’t name the Catholic bishop of Orange, which is good. it is not about him. It is about the Catholic people of Orange county, who serve everyone; it is not about a particular man and his descendants.

  15. Jennifer Roback Morse,

    Uh, we know who the cathedral belonged to before Papa Bear bought it. Compare the cost of purchase along with its renovations, with what happened in the sex abuse scandal in CT … and what was payed to the high-powered lawyers … hmm … serving the Catholics of Orange county in what manner may I ask?


  16. I’ve always thought that the Constitutional provision which prohibits political (governmental) control of the practice of religion trumped the power of the state to levy a tax. Hence, the state cannot tax a church organization. And, by the way, do those who complain about the tax exempt status of the church also complain about the utterly illogical tax exempt status of the NFL?

  17. The 1st Amendment does not prevent churches from being taxed. The tax law does. Whether taxing a church violates the free exercise of religion and establishment clause really depends on context.

    When churches cross engage in for profit commerce, real estate management, providing public services or electioneering, it becomes much murky because you are not talking about exercise of religion.

  18. Tom Hunter,

    “And, by the way, do those who complain about the tax exempt status of the church also complain about the utterly illogical tax exempt status of the NFL?”

    The Roman Catholic Church—the NFL? Interesting observation, and I thought the RCs might be concerning themselves with:

    They say to him: Caesar’s. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s.

    And Jesus answering, said to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

    And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.


  19. I worked there in the 80’s. Those panels are not glass.

  20. I was told by a fish monger that the second choice for the new name of the place was Guilt Cathedral.

  21. maybe I should explain to you all what a non-profit is and why it doesn’t pay taxes. It doesn’t pay a profit to its owners. Therefore there is no profit to tax.

  22. So much for a tabernacle that is “prominent, distinct and immediately identifiable.”

  23. Just having a bit of fun, Nick. If this is what the Roman Catholics/Catholics want, and they are pleased with the way their leadership is handling the sex abuse cases throughout the world, their marriages, divorces, annulments, celibacy in the ranks, communion, baptisms, funerals, confessions, canonization, charities (shh … I won’t say any more on these), women, rites to heaven … in that higher calling of the doctrine of their faith that says there is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church … okie-dokie … it is theirs to identify in. When the leadership of the LEGION OF CHRIST doesn’t make the grade, I guess it’s time to BUY a building and claim it is of Christ.

    But, you know … am still very curious on why the chumminess with the “protestant” sects, and other religious … and this expansion of THE CHURCH, which is beginning to include ALL religious. It’s purely political, it seems, which says what about all those PROTESTANTS (also known as heretics according to the doctrine of the RC faith) in their belief of God? Do they all agree with the Roman Catholic Doctrine, which now includes the God of Islam (at least according to Timothy Dolan)?

    “Let your yes be yes and your no be no …”

    Bye-bye … time to fly.

    Peace and Love.


  24. (And for your information, Protestants are *not* heretics according to Catholic doctrine. You have to actually be Catholic to be a heretic.)

  25. I cannot believe they removed that stunning marble that was at the front. I am sure it is now decorating the demo crews kitchen and bathroom counters. Those “angels” found in the marble were a miracle. So sad.

  26. Why is this your response? Every venue is cause for your knee jerk self righteous anti choice propaganda.

  27. d workers are busy transforming the glass-and-steel building into a space more fit for Catholic liturgy.

    If only they could transform modern Catholic churches into spaces more fit for Catholic liturgy.

  28. David,
    Are you sure the church pays “no sales tax”? Frankly, I don’t believe that, check it out. I have been a minister for many years and have never heard of a church not being taxed on goods received.

    If use tax, if you mean police, fire protection, utilities, sure they should pay it. That’s a local issue, not federal. You would think in California where they need all the money they can to run the government that would not be the case.
    As far as being a 501(c)3 organization. It’s no more tax exempt than thousands and thousands of other 501(c) 3 organizations.

  29. Larry
    I do like what they are doing with the old Chrystal Cathedral, looks like it will not only be restored in a positive way, but create a way to serve the needs of many persons.
    Yes, churches should stay out of commercial types businesses, only places used for worship and ministry (social etc) should not be taxed.

  30. The power to tax is the power to destroy. Not that the church of God can be destroyed, but the ability to gather to worship can be tightly curtailed. No it is not against the First Amendment.
    The money I give and others give to the work of the church has to reach a high percentage to even be deductible.
    There are many books and court decisions on the First Amendment and much you can find on 501(c) 3 charities.

  31. They should also stay away from providing public services unless they are going to serve the entire public and provide all services available from their secular run counterparts.

  32. @David Carey Hart —one could say the same about the United Nations building or any charities that have buildings they may not like..
    WE STILL PAY FOR PLANNED PARENT HOOD Police protection lets do away with that first..

  33. Where is the centrality of The Blessed Sacrament? Canon law states clearly it must be visible to the people coming into The Church. It is not visible anywhere here least of all even mentioned? Where will the 3rd person of The Blessed Trinity be seated, Card. Vann?

  34. Stephen, you’re more than 50 years out of date. Vatican II and subsequent interreligious dialogues changed Roman Catholic liturgy in many ways. For instance, while it is apparently still called an alter, where sacrifices are made, the piece of furniture at the center of worship is a table which the congregation surrounds, emblematic of the table at the last supper, which the disciples sat around when Jesus first served communion. That’s typical of “modern” Roman Catholic churches. Has been for years. Does your appreciation for Roman Catholic tradition exclude one of the Councils?

  35. It seems like the baptismal font was put in a separate room. This is unfortunate, since baptisms really should take place during public worship.

  36. Maybe they could put a tabernacle over the alter like in orthodox churches!
    I think the tabernacle should be in a place of importance – but doesn’t have to be in the primary worship space. I know that’s not current Roman Catholic teaching – but maybe it should be. The important part is that the alter is central to the liturgical space – even if they missed the mark on the font.

  37. “Subsidizing”? “Misadventure”? The Diocese of Orange is doing us all a great favor by making this commitment to preserve one of the great buildings of the 20th Century. Or would you prefer the government take on the responsibility? That’s what they do all over Europe. It’s not about religion. It’s about “cultural tourism” and the economies of entire countries are based on it. Bilboa, Spain, and Sydney, Australia, didn’t have significant architectural icons so they built them. Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia will be complete by 2016 because a couple of million people from all over the world pay $25 or so to get into the place every year. If you want to criticize the bishop do it because he doesn’t plan to charge admission.

  38. But dollars from churches definitely help reduce the burden on government to care for the needs of the population;

    Closing Churches and schools across the country and sinking money into this atrocity of supposed Christian love and giving for others has caused many to leave the Church. Why hasn’t the Pope voiced outrage over this bastion of excess?

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