CV NEWS FEED // The Catholic University of America (CUA) has fired the professor who invited an “abortion doula” to guest speak in her Lifespan Development class, according to a recent announcement.
Last week, “Pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQ activist Rachel Carbonneau spoke to a CUA class known as ‘Lifespan Development,’ which is part of the school’s psychology department,” CatholicVote previously reported. “Its lecturer, Melissa Goldberg, invited Carbonneau.”
The Daily Signal first reported on January 30 that CUA confirmed it had terminated the employment of Goldberg after CUA President Peter Kilpatrick stated there was “clear evidence that the content of the class did not align with our mission and identity.”
Kilpatrick announced the termination of Goldberg’s employment via email to CUA students on January 30.
“Over the weekend a news story appeared online that included an excerpt of an audio recording of a guest speaker addressing one of our psychology classes last Tuesday,” Kilpatrick wrote in the email shared with CatholicVote:
The speaker identified herself as an ‘abortion doula’ and she advocated for abortion, for language that distorts the distinctions between the sexes, and for the normalizing of transgender births.
“We first heard of the incident on Wednesday and began to gather information from the students and the professor,” Kilpatrick continued. “We had been told that one student had a recording of the class, and had plans to send it to the media, but the recording was not shared with the University administration.”
Thursday and Friday of last week, CUA began receiving media inquiries about the issue. Kilpatrick continued:
While we were unable to confirm what exactly was said in the class, we did determine that the speaker’s views on life issues and on the anthropology of the human person were not consistent with our mission and identity as a faithful Catholic university, and that she should not be allowed to address the class again.
Kilpatrick added, “Now that we have clear evidence that the content of the class did not align with our mission and identity, we have now terminated our contract with the professor who invited the speaker.”
Though it is not confirmed whether the termination of employment is effective immediately or at the end of the semester, Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported that “Goldberg’s faculty page was no longer available on the university website as of Tuesday afternoon” (January 30).
CUA nursing student Felipe Avila was enrolled in the Lifespan Development course and told CatholicVote about the day Carbonneau came to guest lecture in the class.
Though the students knew ahead of time from the course syllabus that Carbonneau was scheduled to come to lecture, Avila said the syllabus referenced Carbonneau “as a birth and postpartum doula. There was no reference to her work on abortion and transgenderism.”
Additionally, Avila said Goldberg “never raised the topic [of abortion] in past lectures,” but her “curriculum has numerous mentions referring to transgenderism”.
Avila said that the subject of abortion came up in the lecture when Carbonneau “began using controversial terminology like ‘birthing person’ and ‘pregnant person.’”
Noticing the language, Avila asked Carbonneau “about her opinions on inclusive language… It is then that she declared herself ‘an abortion doula.’ From there, Carbonneau’s focus on transgenderism and abortion became increasingly apparent. As she said herself, ‘This is a space I feel comfortable navigating.’”
“I was glad to see that the university took the incident seriously,” Avila added. CUA reportedly did not know ahead of time about Carbonneau’s background or pro-abortion views.
CUA told the Daily Signal in a statement last week that the university “was appalled to learn about reports regarding this guest speaker… It does not reflect our mission and values as a university that is committed to upholding the dignity of life at all stages.”
“The guest speaker will not be speaking again to the class, and we are re-communicating the terms and expectations by which all outside speakers are vetted and invited,” CUA added.
Avila emphasized his gratitude for CUA’s quick response to the issue. “It is my perception that the university’s swift action is significant and should be acknowledged,” he said. “I appreciate their seriousness on the issue, and look forward to the formation of concrete steps to prevent this from reoccurring.”
Avila shared about his own bioethical standards for professors at the university. “As a Catholic nursing student, I deeply value the teachings of the Catholic Church, particularly on abortion and end-of-life care,” Avila said:
The Catchemism of the Catholic Church clearly lists five non-negotiable issues in relation to the human person and marriage (see catechism paragraphs 2210 and 2211). While usually referenced in the context of voting, I apply these standards to all instructors at my university. Healthcare providers especially share a moral obligation to care for all patients, born and preborn.
President Kilpatrick echoed Avila’s standards from the administrative side in his January 30 announcement.
“As a Catholic institution, we are committed to promoting the full truth of the human person, and to protecting human life from conception to natural death,” Kilpatrick wrote:
In our rigorous pursuit of truth and justice, we engage at times with arguments or ideologies contrary to reason or to the Gospel. But we do so fully confident in the clarity given by the combined lights of reason and faith, and we commit to never advocate for sin or to give moral equivalence to error.
Kilpatrick hailed the life of St. Thomas Aquinas as an example for the CUA community to follow, adding that “such engagement with opposing ideas helps us both to grow in our command of truth and to respond to error with empathy, compassion, and mercy.”
“As always, anyone who has concerns regarding academic matters is encouraged to approach a member of the faculty, a department chair, dean, or the Provost’s office,” he wrote.
The president noted that at CUA there is “the unique opportunity and common blessing to pursue truth, to grow in faith, and to exercise charity.”
“Our studies aim at producing wisdom, which includes excellence in living and sharing the truth with others,” Kilpatrick concluded. “May our common study help us to understand life, to love goodness, and to promote and protect the dignity of the human person.”