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Ratzinger prize awarded to Notre Dame Professor

Recipients of the Ratzinger Prize are pictured with retired Pope Benedict XVI after a ceremony for the conferral of the prize by Pope Francis at the Vatican Nov. 13, 2021. From left Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, president of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation; French professor Jean-Luc Marion; Pope Benedict; Australian theologian Tracey Rowland; and German professors Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz and Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger. The award honors theological research and is named after retired Pope Benedict XVI, the former Joseph Ratzinger. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The University of Notre Dame Australia is proud to announce that a member of its faculty, Professor Tracey Rowland, was one of four recipients of the Ratzinger Prize at a conferral ceremony in Rome on Saturday, 2 October.

The Ratzinger Prize is colloquially described as the “Nobel Prize” in Theology.

The Prize, awarded annually in Euros, is worth approximately $100,000 AUD and is normally shared between two scholars. 

In, 2020 the Prize was shared between Professor Rowland and France’s Jean-Luc Marion, and in 2021 between Professor Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkowitz and Professor Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger.

Pope Francis has awarded the 2020 and 2021 Ratzinger Prize in person, on 2 October. Among them is University of Notre Dame Australia Professor Tracey Rowland, who is the first Australian to receive the prestigious honour for 2020. Photo: Supplied.

Due to pandemic difficulties the conferral ceremony for the 2020 winners was held over and a combined ceremony held for the 2020 and 2021 winners.

Professor Rowland holds the St John Paul II Chair of Theology at The University of Notre Dame Australia and is a Patron of the Australian Catholic Students Association.

In 1996, she won a Commonwealth scholarship to Cambridge where she completed her doctorate in the School of Divinity.

Her doctoral thesis represented a synthesis of the philosophy of culture of Alasdair MacIntyre and the theology of culture of Joseph Ratzinger.

Australian Professor Tracey Rowland and French philosopher Jean-Luc Marion, winners of the 2020 Ratzinger Prize, was finally able to travel to the Vatican to receive their award alongside this years winners, Professor Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkowitz and Professor Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger. Photo: Supplied.

She is the author of some eight books and more than 150 articles and her works have also been published in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, German, French and Romanian.

Her most recent book is Beyond Kant and Nietzsche: the Munich Defence of Christian Humanism, published by Bloomsbury in 2021.

The work showcases the ideas of six German scholars in the inter-war years who each defended the idea of a Christian Humanism against the ascendant Nazi ideology.


Also published by Bloomsbury in 2021 is a collection of essays titled “The Anglican Patrimony: The Gift of the Ordinariates” edited by Professor Rowland.

Professor Rowland is currently the English editor of a Lexikon of the theology of Joseph Ratzinger to which some 72 international scholars have contributed.

The Lexikon will be published in English, German and Spanish and she is also the co-editor with Francesca Aran Murphy of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger.

Professor Rowland has long been an advocate of interdisciplinary research integrating the sciences and the humanities, philosophy, history, and theology.

Pope Francis presents the Ratzinger Prize to Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberge during a ceremony at the Vatican Nov. 13, 2021. The prize was also given to German professor Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz; Australian professor Tracey Rowland; and French professor Jean-Luc Marion. The award honors theological research and is named after retired Pope Benedict XVI, the former Joseph Ratzinger. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

A constant thread throughout her works is an interest in Catholic culture or what she calls ‘the culture of the incarnation’.

She has also shown ongoing interest in the ideas of public intellectuals from Central Europe and in 2012 this was acknowledged by the Polish government with its award of the Officer’s Cross in the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

University of Notre Dame Australia Vice Chancellor Professor Francis Campbell expressed his delight that Prof Rowland’s scholarship has been recognised in “this way” and that “she has been able to receive this award in person from the Holy Father, Pope Francis.”


“Tracey is the first Australian to receive the prestigious Ratzinger Prize and I join the entire Notre Dame community in expressing our congratulations to her.

We are thrilled that she has received this honor.”