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POPE BILLBOARD HITS SOUR NOTE WITH CATHOLICS

Father may know best, but the pope doesn't rock, according to Catholics angered by a billboard that shows John Paul II wearing headphones and a radio station's T-shirt under his vestments.

"I feel it is in very poor taste to use the pope in any kind of ad campaign," Mike Ghering, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, said Friday. About 35 percent of the city's 180,000 residents are Roman Catholic."Besides, from what we understand, the pope enjoys classical and folk music. I don't know if he's into rock 'n' roll, so that also seems inappropriate."

WLAV-FM meant no disrespect toward the Roman Catholic Church through the billboard, said general manager Dennis Lemon. The sign proclaims "Father knows best" and was erected Monday.

"I ran the ad by some people on the staff here who are Catholic and they chuckled. They said, `Sure, you're probably going to offend somebody, but there's nothing wrong with it,' " Lemon said. "I think it was tastefully done."

Artist Mark Heckman, who designed the billboard, defended his work.

"I think that if the pope was in Grand Rapids he probably would tune in to 'LAV to hear some new music," Heckman said. "I mean, the guy's got his own 1-900 number and a record album. He's not the stereotypical pope."