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Thursday, November 15, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Pro-Life activist arrested by priest

A pro-life activist banned from stepping on the grounds of St. Matthew’s Church in San Mateo after a controversy over his display of signs showing graphic pictures of aborted babies was arrested on Tuesday, Nov. 13, for trespassing on church grounds.

St. Matthew’s pastor, the Rev. Anthony McGuire, placed Ross Foti, 72, under citizen’s arrest when he came for the 8:15 a.m. Mass on Tuesday, the Nov. 14 Oakland Tribune reported. San Mateo police arrived and cited Foti for misdemeanor trespassing and released him. Foti has been ordered to appear in San Mateo County Superior Court on Dec. 27.

Foti expressed surprise at his arrest to the Tribune, saying he had attended two Masses at St. Matthew’s on the previous Saturday and had received communion from McGuire. McGuire told the newspaper that he had been unable to do anything about Foti’s Saturday appearance, since Foti had left the church before McGuire could speak with him.

Foti, a well-known pro-life activist, has long been controversial at St. Matthew’s. Parents of children at the parish school began complaining last year of Foti’s truck, displaying the graphic signs, which he parked on a public street adjacent to the school. Parents, who dropped their children off on the street for school, complained that their children had to view the graphic pictures.

Foti told California Catholic Daily in October that he parked his truck on the street adjacent to the church only three days a week, when he attended Mass before going to San Mateo’s Planned Parenthood clinic. McGuire, however, said that, beginning this school year, Foti parked his truck on the street every weekday morning.

McGuire told Foti he could no longer come to the parish after he, according to the priest, reneged on an agreement not to attend the Friday morning children’s Mass. Foti claimed that McGuire had said the ban was not permanent, a claim McGuire denied. Part of the agreement was that Foti cover the offending signs on his truck; but, later, McGuire requested that Foti also cover up the signs that simply said, “Abortion is murder.” (See “An aborted baby’s head” and “Picture of an aborted baby’s head,” Oct. 1-2 California Catholic Daily.)

Foti told the Nov. 14 Tribune he did not feel McGuire “had any valid grounds to ban me from the church. Right now, I am going to call my attorney and see what I can do and what I should do."