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Roman Catholic Diocese Wins Bid For Crystal Cathedral

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SANTA ANA (CBS) — A federal bankruptcy judge approved a plan Thursday by the Orange County Roman Catholic Diocese to acquire the debt-ridden Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.

Crystal Cathedral Ministry’s board had reversed its earlier backing of Chapman University as the preferred bidder and announced it would support the diocese instead.

Both the diocese and Chapman had presented multiple purchase plans, and each had subsequently submitted boosted offers to compete with the other.

U.S. District Judge Robert Kwan ruled after an hours-long hearing that the diocese had the best plan for paying off the mega-church’s $51.7 million debt.

The Diocese increased its $53.6 million offer to $55.4 million last week, then boosted it again this weekend to $57.5 million. Diocese officials wanted to make sure the offer covered all projected debt, including an approximate $300,000 annual annuity to the Crystal Cathedral’s founder, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, and his wife.

Crystal Cathedral Ministry’s board members had earlier designated Chapman University as the “preferred buyer” due to the terms of its offer, which would allow the debt-plagued church a chance to buy back its cathedral and maintain control over its cemetery.

However, financial expert Michael Vanderley testified earlier this week that Chapman’s $51.5 million bid would not be feasible under most scenarios, including additional claims from Schuller and his wife.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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