Dr. John Billings, the Catholic doctor who with his wife pioneered a revolutionary new Church-backed method for couples to achieve or avoid conception, died April 1 at a retirement home in the Melbourne, Australia, suburb of Richmond. He was 89. By the time of his death, teaching centers on the Billings Ovulation Method of natural family planning had been established in more than 100 countries and the government of China had officially adopted it for population control purposes. The method was supported by the Church as a morally acceptable way for Catholic couples to plan their families. In a message read at Billings' April 4 funeral Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne, Pope Benedict XVI described the Australian medical pioneer and researcher as a "noble soul." "Having learned with sorrow of the death of your husband, I offer my heartfelt condolences to you and your family and to all who mourn his passing," the pope said in his message to Dr. Evelyn Billings.