Religions and Spirituality

Auxiliary Catholic Bishop of Newark Assaulted During Mass in Cathedral

The Most Reverend Manuel A. Cruz, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark.

NEWARK, NJ - A day meant to venerate a hero of Newark's Latino community ended in shock and horror when an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark was punched in the face during Mass at Newark's Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. 

The Most Reverend Manuel A. Cruz, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, was offering opening prayers at a Saturday afternoon service commemorating the life of baseball great Roberto Clemente, remembered by Latinos in Newark, especially those from his native Puerto Rico, for his tragic death in a plane crash en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua in 1972. 

The sanctity of the mass was shattered when a man wearing a white robe over a red suit shambled up to the altar from the crowd, reached Bishop Cruz and struck the 63-year-old in the face, knocking him backwards until he fell on the altar. 

Sign Up for E-News

TAPintoNewark witnessed the assailant's apprehension after several Essex County's Sheriff's police officers ran onto the altar and handcuffed the man. One officer at the scene who saw Cruz after he was struck commented to another officer that several of the bishop's teeth had been loosened in the attack. 

The Essex County's Sheriff's Officers at the scene soon cleared the cathedral in order to investigate the crime scene, telling TAPintoNewark that no further information was immediately available because of the ongoing criminal investigation. 

However, several of the officers swarmed around a classic purple Cadillac Eldorado parked immediately in front of the cathedral. The car, which has a faux-zebra skin interior and New Jersey license plates, also has a residential parking permit for Foster Street, in Newark's South Ward, attached to the driver's rear view mirror. 

"We're surprised and saddened by this, and we're very thankful that law enforcement was able to apprehend the assailant," said Jim Goodness, spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese. "Bishop Cruz is receiving excellent care."

Inside the cathedral immediately after the attack, the shock of the assault stunned the crowd. Many in the pews ducked when Cruz was first struck, not knowing what further to expect from the assailant. Others among the approximately 75 people assembled stood and screamed. 

The mass was organized by Newark Councilman-at-large Luis Quintana and sponsored by the Mayor Ras Baraka and the City Council.

"We are all praying for Bishop Cruz," Quintana said. "It's hard understand what would provoke a man to attack a member of the clergy within the sanctity of a church. It just doesn't make any sense."

Quintana, visibly shaken and in tears, told the crowd that the mass honoring Clemente would be held the next day at the Sunday 12:30 pm Mass at nearby St. Lucy's Church, blocks away from the cathedral. 

North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., who was attending the mass and witnessed the assault, said parishioners were terrified.

"This is truly one of the most shocking and disturbing things I have seen," Ramos said. "For a bishop to get attacked while conducting opening prayers during a mass honoring the humanitarian Roberto Clemente is horrendous."

Another woman in the crowd, clenching her hands together in prayer, called out to the assailant as he was marched away in handcuffs.

"I will pray for your dark soul, but this is evil," the woman cried out. "This can't happen here. This is a house of God." 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

Millburn Recreation Accepting Memberships for Pool, Tennis and Golf

February 19, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn Township Recreation Department announced that it is accepting memberships for the township pool, tennis and golf facilities. The memberships are available to all Millburn Township residents and the applications are available online.

The membership application can be accessed at or go ...

Millburn Police Investigating Theft at Louis Vuitton Store

March 13, 2018

On March 6, 2018 Millburn Police Officer McMillan stopped a 2003 Acura 3.2 on Parsonage Hill/Passaic for having no front plate and tinted windows. The investigation led to the arrest of 33 year old Horace Hall Jr of Newark for possession of a controlled dangerous substance (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Mr. Hall Jr was released on a summons.

On March 6, 2018 Millburn Police ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Upcoming Events


Wed, March 21, 8:30 AM

St. Vincent Martyr School, Madison

Open House for Preschool, Kindergarten & First ...



Wed, March 21, 6:00 PM

Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center, Conference Room A/B, First Floor, Livingston

Colon Cancer Screening Education Program at Saint ...

Health & Wellness


Thu, March 22, 7:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

My Clutter is Taking Over! with Jamie Novak at ...

Home & Garden


Mon, March 26, 9:00 AM

My Tech Learning STEM EdVenture Lab, Livingston

Calling All Artists & Inventors to My Tech's ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

All-Star Basketball Event Coming to Millburn

March 17, 2018

Millburn All Stars vs. Pros – Saturday March 24, 6:00 pm

Community Event at Millburn High School

On Saturday, March 24th, the Millburn High School Senior Celebration 2018 Committee is partnering with Dreams for Kids, Inc., to present Millburn All-Stars vs. Pros.

At the All-Star Basketball event, a team of NFL players will take on teams from the Millburn/Short Hills ...

Millburn Summer Pool Employment

The Millburn Recreation Dept. is accepting applications for  Lifeguards andthe Assistant Manager and head Swim Coach positions at the Township Pool.  Interested persons may apply at the Recreation Dept. in Town Hall or visit to download an employment application.

Email inquiries to or call 973-564-7064 for further ...

Lightbridge Academy in Millburn Hiring Assistant and Lead Teachers

If you are passionate about educating and nurturing young minds, you may fit right in with our family! Lightbridge Academy is currently hiring Assistant and Lead Teachers to join our team and grow with us!

If you would like to learn more about the positions offered, you can reach us at 973-218-1800.