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Aids Group Pulls Ad Featuring Pope

A poster to raise money for AIDS research that begins “If The Pope Had AIDS …” was shelved because it’s too controversial.

“We felt it was a distraction from our overall message,” shoe designer Kenneth Cole said Wednesday, a day after the public awareness campaign was announced at a news conference.

Cole created the poster and several others like it for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, or AmFAR, on whose board he serves.

“If The Pope Had AIDS, He’d Need More Than Just Your Prayers,” declares one. Another says, “If The President Had AIDS, He’d Need More Than Your Vote.” Others mention the House speaker, “your mom” and “your kid.”

The scheduled release of the pope poster in 17 U.S. cities has been canceled, Cole said, because of fears the controversy would obscure the message.

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for New York Cardinal John O’Connor, said the pope poster was “distasteful” and objected to any insinuation that the church had not done enough to support AIDS care and research.

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