New Jersey – While Most Reverend Manuel A. Cruz was saying a prayer he was struck in the face by an assailant during Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. In the video, a man is seen walking slowly up to the altar toward the bishop as a police officer rushes up behind him. He glances backward to see where the police officer is, then delivers a quick punch to the priest’s face.
The strike caused the priest to fall backward and to the floor with an altar boy tending to him.
The attack reportedly caused a split lip and loosened teeth. Bishop Cruz required stitches.
In the video, you can see how disturbed the parishoners were. The video is quite shocking.
It appears the church hired police officers to act in security. As we have seen in other incidents of violence against pastors and priests, people cannot be allowed to wander onto the stage simply due to the unpredictability of people.
This is where the use of people in plain clothes being stationed at the front of the worship area, who can quickly respond if someone moves to the stage area.
It appears the police officer had to come from the back of the chapel area, which caused him to have to catch up.
When personnel are at the front of the church, it is important to have people at the back, so they can radio movements, and the security personnel can intervene quickly.
Lastly, having the skill to control a violent person is important for anyone standing in the gap. Action beats reaction, so having the skill to deflect a strike and take someone down to the ground is imperative.