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Film screening to mark 50 years of Humanae Vitae


This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Humane Vitae. At the time he wrote the encyclical, there was a great expectation that the Holy Father would fall in line with the rest of society and soften the Church’s teaching on contraception. Many Catholic couples had already started using contraceptives.

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Yet, after much prayer and consideration, it was with great shock to the world that the Pope released his controversial but prophetic message in Humanae Vitae.

Many of the consequences he outlined in the letter have sadly come true. The pill, that was supposed to liberate women in particular, has led to a world plagued with high rates of divorce and family breakdown, abortions and infertility.

Contrary to popular belief, the Church does not teach that a couple must have as many children as possible. As stated in the encyclical, “ If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which we have just explained. “

The Pope challenged men and women of science to discover ways for people to understand their fertility and so with this knowledge be empowered to live in accord with God’s plan for life and love.

At that time, NFP (Natural Family Planning) was still mainly guesswork and Fr Maurice Catarinch approached Dr John Billings (a Melbourne doctor) to help him, as there were so many Catholic couples who were struggling to live out their married lives faithful to the Church’s teaching.

Dr John originally only offered to work with Fr Catarinich for 3 months. However, he and his wife Evelyn (who later joined him) would tirelessly promote this simple but effective method all over the world, for the rest of their lives.

A new movie has been released entitled The Sexual Revolution: 50 years since Humanae Vitae. It has been produced by Springtime Productions (USA) but has a very strong Australian flavour. After all, the Billings Ovulation Method is Australian. The theme song was also written by a young Australian woman.

The movie is a documentary on the effects of the sexual revolution compared with the Pope’s message about love, sex and marriage.

The inspiration for the movie was the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae and the ensuing work of Doctors John and Evelyn Billings. The production crew visited Melbourne and Sydney last year and interviewed many people including Archbishop Fisher (who features in the movie) and others who knew Drs John and Evelyn Billings.

Screenings in Rome for October 2018 are being co-ordinated to coincide with the Canonisation of Pope Paul VI.

A screening of the movie will take place in Adelaide on Saturday November 10 at 7pm in the Adelaide Cathedral Hall. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased on the night at the door or preferably booked in advance with Lucia by email, The link to the trailer is This is an exciting opportunity to spread the good news about Humanae Vitae and Natural Family Planning.

Lucia Snelling is a Billings Ovulation Method teacher.


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