An auxiliary bishop for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark was attacked on the altar Saturday while leading a mass.
Worshippers at Sacred Heart Cathedral were stunned as a Charles Miller, 48, walked up to Rev. Manuel A. Cruz and socked him in the mouth, knocking him to the floor. Parishioner Mark Bonamo told CBS News, “People thought, ‘Oh he might be part of the Mass,’ but I myself thought it was little odd out of the gate, then when he walked up and hit the man in the face, people were shocked. Some people ducked, others screamed.”
Cruz was leading prayers at the Mass to celebrate the life of famed Latino baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente when the incident happened. Video captures Miller calmly sauntering up the priest before punching him in the face. Fortunately a police officer was on hand to prevent the assault from going any further, and other church goers stepping to help subdue Miller.
Miller, who is known in the neighborhood and has no prior criminal history, was charged with assault.
Rev. Cruz required stitches in his mouth, but is already back at work. In an interview with NBC News, he says he has already forgiven Charles Miller for the attack. Miller has no prior criminal history and has been charged with aggravated assault. Police have yet to identify a motive for the attack.
[Photo: NBC News]