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A large crowd attends a Mass at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Newark, N.J. Hundreds of parishioners and clergy members packed the church to mark the 25th anniversary of Bishop John Myers' episcopal consecration. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

A bishop has been treated with 30 stitches after being punched in the face during Mass

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WATCH  | A New Jersey bishop is punched in the face while leading Catholic Mass

A Newark, New Jersey, bishop was treated with 30 stitches in the mouth following a disturbing attack that occurred in the middle of mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday, CBS New York reports. Video from the incident shows a man dressed in white slowly making his way to the altar before he takes a violent swing at Bishop Manuel Cruz before being subdued by police.

The suspect, identified as 48-year-old Charles Miller has been charged with assault. On Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty. He did not clarify what lead him to punch the bishop.

“It was a very shocking and horrific moment,” said parishioner Mark Bonamo, who added that the attacker sat by himself before making his way down the aisle. “As a former altar boy a lot of people thought, ‘Oh he might be part of 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.”

Following the attack, Cruz reported that he was feeling okay, but still startled. 

“I am in pain. I’m a little frightened inside. I’m only a human being, but otherwise, I am okay,” he said.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark says, “We certainly were surprised and saddened by it, and are thankful that things were not worse than they turned out to be.”

Bishop Cruz, despite the incident, harbors nothing but compassion for Miller.

“This man who came to the altar is my brother and I’ve been praying for him,” he said. “I pray that this be a moment of grace for all of us and that we come to know that we are loved and that we don’t have to be afraid,” he said.

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