Auxiliary Catholic bishop punched in the face during mass in New Jersey

Police arrested a New Jersey man for allegedly assaulting an auxiliary Catholic bishop during mass Saturday. File Photo by Miki Sarabiez/Shutterstock

Jan. 29 (UPI) — A 48-year-old New Jersey man has been arrested after allegedly punching an auxiliary bishop in the face during mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

The Rev. Manuel A. Cruz, 63, needed two stitches in his lip after Saturday’s incident. Several of his teeth reportedly were also loosened by the strike.

The clergyman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark was offering the opening prayers at a service celebrating the life of the late Puerto Rican baseball great Roberto Clemente when a man wearing a white robe over a red suit allegedly attacked him, knocking Cruz backward onto the altar.

Charles Miller, who has no criminal history, was charged with simple assault.

Sheriff’s deputies providing security for the church were on the scene at the time of the altercation.

“We are thankful that law enforcement officers were able to apprehend the assailant,” said Jim Goodness, spokesman for the archdiocese. “This is not something that we expect to happen in any of our churches.”

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