• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Diocese of Orange buys Crystal Cathedral

The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., is seen in this undated photo.

February 4, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Diocese of Orange has closed on its purchase of the Crystal Cathedral and surrounding grounds.

The diocese closed escrow Friday on its $57.5 million purchase of the 31-acre site, which will become the site of a long-sought cathedral for Orange County's nearly 1.3 million Catholics.

The sale could mark an end to the storied televangelist ministry broadcast that came crashing down in hard times. The Crystal Cathedral sought bankruptcy protection in 2010, citing a drop in revenues following the recession.

Many churchgoers opposed the sale of the building to the diocese, preferring an alternative presented in a bidding war by Orange County's Chapman University that would have let the ministry continue to use the site. But church board members and founder Rev. Robert H. Schuller decided in the end they wanted to keep the building as a house of worship.

In a statement, Schuller said the sale doesn't mark an ending. "Rather, it is a divine continuance of a beautiful, sacred campus that was dedicated to the greater glory of God," he said.

The cathedral ministry will continue using the church during a three-year transition period.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.