In 1953, in Melbourne, Australia, a seed was planted in the field of medical science, the flowering modalities of which no one could ever have imagined. The priest Maurice Catarinich asked Dr. John Billings for help, in order to be able to direct some couples, who desired to naturally regulate their fertility, in a simpler and more effective way compared to the scientific knowledge of the time. It was the first of many “intuitions” that punctuated the path of the “Billings Revolution”: someone in fact wrote that, by choosing Dr. Billings, Father Catarinich was certain that he would face the problem with “a scientific mind, moulded by an intuitive understanding of conjugal love and responsible parenthood”.
The John J. Billings Memorial Lecture
The John J Billings Memorial Lecture, the keynote address at international conferences of WOOMB International, gives an opportunity to remember and celebrate the legacy given by our first teacher and leader: a humble, generous and patient man, gifted with wisdom, compassion and a loving heart, who committed his life to the service of Life and Love.
These Memorial Lectures serve as a source of encouragement and inspiration for all of those whose aim it is to promote this legacy of Life and Love through their own ministrations, by offering further insights into the ethical way of understanding and regulating human fertility.
As it is formulated, the theme subject to reflection immediately plunges into the heart of conjugal love, a place of the fulfilling communion of people and the foundation of the family (John Paul II, 1981, n°11). But he founded the family only by meeting its goals: union and generation. According to philosopher Fabrice Hadjadj, it is for this purpose that nature has endowed the masculine and the feminine with appropriate organs.
This wonderful work, of which we have the privilege of being part, would not have been possible without Evelyn Billings, who was with John throughout his life and like him, had many awards at universities, and included the decoration of St. Gregory by St. John Paul II, which Dr. John Billings had previously received. Therefore, with the permission of the Directors of WOOMB International and the organizers of the meeting,
let me make a change in the name of this conference, which I am sure Dr. John Billings would have approved to Bioethical Considerations of Natural Family Planning – Conference in memory of the Doctors John and Evelyn Billings, because it was a work done and even more, lived as husband and wife.
Openness to Life and the Billings Ovulation Method®
Reflections on the Synod on the Family and its impact on our work
Timeline to the Synod on the Family
On 8th October 2013, Pope Francis announced that in October 2014 there would be an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on topics related to the family and evangelization. The purpose of this first part of the Synod process was to “define the ‘status quaestionis’, the current situation, and to collect the bishops’ experiences and proposals in proclaiming and living the Gospel of the Family in a credible manner. It was to thoroughly examine and analyse the
information, testimonies and recommendations received from the particular Churches in order to respond to the new challenges of the family.” [In this context “particular Churches” refers to the Church in each place, which is why the head of the Bishops’ Conferences in each country was the person chosen to participate in the Extraordinary Synod.]
They have reached the end of their journey, and are now in eternal love.
They made their journey a pilgrimage, where every step was a unique goal, to reach their life’s ideal of love.
Dr John Billings was asked in 1953 to research what means were available to help couples under pressure manage their fertility. He committed himself to do this for a few weeks, and began a lifetime’s service to women, to couples, to families, and to society.
In December the same year, on Wednesday the 9th in London, the obstetrician and gynaecologist Mr Wilfred Shaw died a few days before his 56th birthday.
To be invited to deliver the first John J. Billings Memorial Lecture is a great honour. Two years ago, I felt humbled and privileged to be the homilist at Dr John’s funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne. As on that occasion, we remember and celebrate a great man, a wise leader with a generous heart and gentle patience. In developing the most widely-known method of natural fertility awareness, this courageous man worked with Dr. Lyn Billings, his beloved wife who is with us tonight. Undaunted by challenges they have been able to help thousands of couples around the world by offering a reliable and ethical way of understanding and regulating human fertility. You are all part of that great continuing project initiated by Dr John and Dr Lyn Billings. I thank you for your dedication, your sacrifices and commitment.