Christ Cathedral’s Transformation Is an Act of Providence


National Catholic Register, 25 July 2019

The project also reflects a renewed sense of mission for the Diocese of Orange, California.

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — The July 17 dedication of the new Christ Cathedral for the Diocese of Orange looked backward and forward: backward to discerning the providence of God at work in the unusual conversion of a Protestant televangelist’s iconic church — the Crystal Cathedral — into a Catholic cathedral; and forward to a renewed sense of mission for the diocese organized around the new cathedral.

When Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power television ministry built its new home in 1982, the name “Crystal Cathedral” became widely popular, which was odd, because Protestants of the Schuller variety do not have cathedrals. Cathedrals are for churches that have bishops.

It’s true that the term “cathedral” — derived from cathedra, the Latin word for “seat,” referencing the bishop’s throne in the church — is mistakenly used to describe any grand church, but Schuller certainly knew better. It’s likely that he was not too bothered by the episcopal connotations of calling his church a “cathedral” because Schuller was rather friendly toward Catholics; though his ministry did not have an overseeing bishop, he was not opposed in principle to that reality in the Christian tradition.

During the dedication ceremonies, there was an occasional reference to a photograph from 1980, in which Schuller is greeted by St. John Paul II at a general audience in Rome. He has the plans for Crystal Cathedral with him, and he shows them to the Holy Father. In retrospect, some suggested that John Paul’s blessings upon the plans gave a glimpse at what the future held for Crystal Cathedral.

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