Newark auxiliary punched in mouth; alleged attacker arrested

| February 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

Pope Benedict XVI meets bishops from the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., at the Vatican in this 2011 file photo. Auxiliary Bishop Manuel A. Cruz, second from left, told a congregation he was fine Jan. 29, the day after he had been punched in the mouth by an assailant. CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano

Auxiliary Bishop Manuel Cruz of Newark told a congregation he was fine Jan. 29, the day after he had been punched in the mouth by an assailant.

“He did meet and address the congregation this morning to tell everybody that he was fine and that, certainly, people should not be making this a matter that they can be worked up on,” said James Goodness, Newark archdiocesan spokesman, told the NJ.com website. “This was an isolated incident.”

The Cuban-born Bishop Cruz, a Newark auxiliary since 2008, was at a Jan. 28 event for baseball Hall of Famer Robert Clemente when he was attacked. He was celebrating a special Mass for the late player at the Basilica Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

Charles Miller was arrested by the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and charged with aggravated assault. The Essex County prosecutor’s office is handling the investigation. No motive was given for the attack.

Bishop Cruz was taken to a hospital afterward with injuries that were not serious. He was released later that day and returned to the cathedral residence.

“Certainly we’re thankful that law enforcement was on hand and able to apprehend the assailant,” Goodness told NJ.com.

Miller was being held in the Essex County Correctional Facility pending a court appearance, according to Thomas Fennelly, Essex County’s chief assistant prosecutor.

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