2019.01.29 Aborto, feto, embrione, vita, interruzione gravidanza

Pope Francis upholds "Billings Revolution"

In a message to participants in the WOOMB International Congress Rome on the Billings Method, Pope Francis highlights its ongoing contribution to the understanding of human sexuality and to a fuller appreciation of the relational and procreative dimensions of the couple, saying that use of methods based on the natural rhythms of fertility should be encouraged.

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis has called for a “new revolution” in today’s way of thinking human sexuality, after the so-called sexual revolution and the breakdown of taboos in the Sixties, by refocusing on its strict connection with the fundamental vocation of each person which is the “gift of self”.

The beauty of human sexuality

“We need to discover the beauty of human sexuality by once again turning to the great book of nature, learning to respect the value of the body and the generation of life, with a view to authentic experiences of conjugal love”, the Pope wrote in a message addressed to participants in the WOOMB International Congress hosted from 28-29 April by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.

WOOMB is a U.S. based organization founded in the 1970’s to help spread the Billings Ovulation Method for natural family planning, which was pioneered in 1953  by Australian physician John Billings and his wife Evelyn as an alternative  to artificial contraception. As such this method is endorsed by the Catholic Church, as well as being approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The relational and procreative dimensions of human sexuality

In his message to the Congress, titled “The ‘Billings revolution’ 70 years later: From Fertility Knowledge to Personalized Medicine”, Pope Francis notes that over the past seven decades the Billings Method has continued to prove “timely and challenging, since it has led to serious reflection on a number of essential areas”. 

These include “the need for education in the value of the human body, an integrated and integral vision of human sexuality, an ability to cherish the fruitfulness of love even when not fertile, the building up of a culture that welcomes life and ways to confront the problem of demographic collapse”.

“The original momentum of what has been called the “Billings revolution” has not diminished, but continues to contribute to the understanding of human sexuality and a fuller appreciation of the relational and procreative dimensions of the couple.”

Citing  Pope St. Paul’s Encyclical “Humanae Vitae (1968), Pope Francis goes on to reiterate the need to keep in mind “the inseparable connection the unitive and procreative meanings of the conjugal act”, against the “relativistic and trivialized view of human sexuality” prevailing today.

Sexuality as the gift of self

“Lacking this”, he says, “the experience of sexuality is impoverished, reduced to sensations that soon become self-referential, and its dimensions of humanity and responsibility are lost”, resulting, amongst other things, in gender violence.

“We are tending to lose sight of the connection between sexuality and the fundamental vocation of each person, the gift of self, which finds particular fulfilment in conjugal and family love.”

Hence the importance of educating young people on the truth of human sexuality as a genuine expression of self-giving.

Artificial procreation, trade in gametes and surrogate parenthood are wrong

Reflecting further on the relationship between sexuality and procreation, Pope Francis remarked that the Billings Method, together with other similar natural methods, represents “one of the most suitable means for realizing responsibly the desire to be parents”,  also for addressing infertility problems avoiding the ethical issues related to the modern artificial methods which separate procreation from sexual relationship.

“Today the ideological and practical separation of the sexual relationship from its generative potential has resulted in the quest for alternative forms of having a child, no longer through marital relations but through the use of artificial processes. While it is appropriate to assist and support a legitimate desire to conceive with the most advanced scientific knowledge and technologies that can enhance fertility, it is wrong to create test tube embryos and then suppress them, to trade in gametes and to resort to the practice of surrogate parenthood.”

In this regard, the message remarks the fundamental contribution of Catholic universities, and Faculties of Medicine in particular, to advancing research in this field.

The pastoral value of promoting knowledge of fertility and natural methods

Bringing his message to a close, Pope Francis also underscores the “pastoral value” of promoting knowledge of fertility and natural methods in that they help "couples to be more conscious of their marital vocation and to bear witness to the Gospel values of human sexuality”.  

Therefore, he concludes, “the use of methods based on the natural rhythms of fertility should be encouraged”.


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28 April 2023, 13:45