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Crystal Cathedral member files $30-billion claim over church sale

A longtime Crystal Cathedral congregant has filed a claim of more than $30 billion in bankruptcy court alleging that his religious and civil rights have been violated as a result of the sale of the Garden Grove campus to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

David E. Phillippe, a Victorville resident, said the November 2011 purchase of the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral by the Catholic Church has “desecrated” the campus, where his wife is buried. His claim also names Bishop Tod Brown, the pope, the Vatican and the founding family of the Crystal Cathedral, the Schullers.

“Crystal Cathedral Ministries diverted funds to their own enrichment, failed to pay bills and through their own mismanagement of available money caused this bankruptcy,” Phillippe wrote in the claim.

Phillippe compared the Crystal Cathedral campus to Westminster Abbey and, in court documents, attached a Wikipedia entry on pontifical secrecy and articles about the various sex abuse allegation cases that the Catholic Church faced.

In an email filed with documents this week, Nanette Sanders, the attorney for the bankruptcy agent in the case, said that Phillippe should have brought these concerns to the court long before the November sale.

“Your alleged claims against the pope, the Vatican and the Schullers are not claims in which the bankruptcy estate should be involved," she said.


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--Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Crystal Cathedral. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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