Man accused of punching auxiliary bishop pleads not guilty

Man accused of punching auxiliary bishop pleads not guilty

A 48-year-old Newark man has been arrested and charged with assault, according to

Dramatic footage has been released of the sudden attack on an auxiliary bishop as he said prayers at a service in Newark, New Jersey, over the weekend.

The Rev. Manuel Cruz was punched in the mouth Saturday at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark during an event honoring the late baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.

As Bishop Manuel Cruz was delivering his sermon, Charles Miller stood up from his pew and punched him in the jaw.

Making his first appearance before a judge Tuesday, a man accused of punching a Catholic bishop during a Mass on Saturday identified himself as a "reverend" and referred to the Bible as "evidence" in his case.

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Parishioner Mark Bonamo described the attack as "horrific", CBS reports.

"As a former altar boy, a lot of people thought, 'oh he might be part of the Mass, ' but I myself thought it was little odd right off from the gate. People were shocked. Some people ducked, others screamed", he said. He hit the bishop in the mouth and knocked hi to the ground before the suspect was tackled by police.

Bishop Cruz addressed the congregation the next day and said he was doing well.

"We certainly were surprised and saddened by it, and are thankful that things were not worse than they turned out to be". His motive behind the attack is not yet known.