NEWARK — A  auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Newark who was punched at the start of Mass on Saturday night recovered enough from the incident to address some members of the congregation at services on Sunday.

Archdiocese of Newark spokesman Jim Goodness said that during a Mass in honor of former baseball player Roberto Clemente, a man walked up to the Rev. Manuel Cruz and punched him in the mouth, knocking him to the ground. Goodness said the auxiliary bishop received treatment at a local hospital after the incident but was home by last night and resting.

Security was able to arrest the man and take him into custody. Essex County authorities have identified him as 48-year-old Newark resident Charles Miller. Goodness said no motive was known as of Sunday night, but did not believe the man was a member of the diocese.

Goodness said the Mass, which was organized with the help of others in the local Latino community, was cancelled in light of the events.

When the bishop addressed members of the congregation on Sunday, Goodness said, he had a very important message to deliver: "He hopes people will understand this was an isolated incident."

Clemente, died on Dec. 31, 1972, in a plane crash while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He spent 18 Major League Baseball seasons as a right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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