Pope Honours Ratzinger’s Australian Disciple

An Australian theologian, Professor Tracey Rowland, has been presented by Pope Francis with the Ratzinger Prize, regarded as the Nobel Prize for theology. This confirms her as one of the world’s leading theologians and as a major figure in the intellectual struggle to understand and contest the present crisis in Christianity and Western Civilisation. Central to this struggle, she  contends, has been Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI:

This is because both the Church and western culture is in a state of crisis … The crises are primarily of an intellectual nature and they have secondary effects in the world of culture, spirituality and human relationships… To get out of any crisis someone needs to do a pathology report on the cause(s) of the problems and to recommend solutions,” and this is what Joseph Ratzinger has done.

Professor Rowland is a leading contemporary interpreter of Ratzinger and her exposition and application of his thought stands as an increasingly important achievement as the West sinks ever deeper into the nihilist abyss about which alert theologians and philosophers warned throughout the 20th Century. She addresses this tradition in her latest book, Beyond Kant and Nietzsche: The Munich Defence of Christian Humanism (2021), which provides studies of six German theologians of the past century who took a stand against Nazism, and whose thought shaped that of Ratzinger.

As the title of her latest book makes clear, Professor Rowland recognises the central position that Nietzschean thought has come to assume in the cultural crisis of our time, especially in its use by Cultural Marxists and postmodernists to consolidate a comprehensive relativism as the default setting for what now passes for all contemporary thinking, along with the worship of the ‘Will to Power’ that contemporary politicians find themselves unable to resist (we’re looking at you, Dan Andrews). She also highlights how the philosophy of Kant has been utilised to eliminate any recognition of the noumenon or transcendent realm, and consequently has enthroned a suffocating form of ‘absolute immanentism’ at the centre of subsequent Western thought. This has crippled the intellectual culture of the West and provided the basis for the rise of Nazism, Communism, and other political religions, along with the totalitarian tendency that is becoming ever more evident in contemporary society.   

This field of Continental scholarship is one in which Professor Rowland is particularly at home, having done all her advanced study in Europe and the UK.  At present she holds the St. John II Chair in Theology at the University of Notre Dame and is an Honorary Fellow of Campion College. The principal focus of her work is on the theology of culture, the history of theology, and on theological anthropology (e.g., nature and grace, intellect, faith, reason, and the imagination). Her earliest work was on political philosophy, including the relationship between culture and freedom, and also on Marxism, Liberalism, and the Catholic engagement with these dominating contemporary ideologies.

She is also an expert on Continental theology, philosophy and social theory, and is a strong advocate of interdisciplinary work, cross-fertilising theology, philosophy, the social sciences and the humanities. She is the author of eight books and over 150 scholarly articles, translated into Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, German, French, and Romanian. She is a member of the International Theological Commission, serves on several editorial boards, including Communio: International Catholic Review, and Radical Orthodoxy: A Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Politics, is patron of the Australian Catholic Students Association and of the Christopher Dawson Society of Western Australia, and is a Dame of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller.

Amongst her books, she has published a text on Catholic Theology (2019), which illuminates the complex trajectory of that field over the past century, with a focus on Liberation Theology and the various attempts to revivify the Thomist tradition. It is notable for the way it confronts the fragmentation of the field and the colonization of theology and the humanities generally by various species of Marxism and Postmodernism. She has also published Ratzinger’s Faith: the Theology of Pope Benedict XVI (2008) and Benedict XVI: a Guide for the Perplexed (2010). The former is directed to a general audience while the latter is most suitable to those studying theology. It makes the perhaps unfashionable, but nevertheless undeniable, case that Pope Benedict’s great body of work, stretching back many decades across the tumultuous intellectual history of 20th Century Europe, makes him intellectually one of the most significant pontiff’s since the Reformation.

According to Professor Rowland, Ratzinger is important to today’s world for a number of reasons: his entire body of work is informed by a comprehensive knowledge of the intellectual history of Western Civilisation; he possesses a deep understanding of Western culture, particularly of Cultural Marxism and secular ideologies generally, and is able to communicate this knowledge in an accessible fashion – as she observes

…he writes in such a way that young people reading him feel as though he understands the pathologies of the culture into which they have been born

he combines deep piety with high  scholarship, a rare combination; he recognizes and coherently addresses the complexities of the issues he deals with; and, she observes pointedly

he actually believes the Catholic faith. One can’t always assume this of people on the Church’s payroll.

Tracey Rowland exhibits the same range of qualities and, as her winning the Ratzinger Prize confirms, she has the high quality intellect and scholarship that is desperately required (especially in Australia) if Western Civilisation is to confront effectively the forces that are currently seeking to destroy it.

12 thoughts on “Pope Honours Ratzinger’s Australian Disciple

  • padmmdpat says:

    After reading today that Dictator Dan was given Communion at Bert Newton’s requiam mass and considering throwing In what’s left of my frayed Catholic towel, this award is a light in the darkness and enabled me to find the restorative gin bottle.

  • andrew2 says:

    Does Professor Tracey Rowland do speaking tours?

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    All that highbrow talk does not reveal whether of not she ‘believes’ in homosexuality … and whether or not it is linked to the pederasty rife within the entire church organisation globally … and the corruption in the Vatican’s considerable finances. We the people want to know whether or not the Pope is a Catholic … whether or not he is a communist? These high faulting awards are not for the ordinary people – they are for the ruling classes …

  • padmmdpat says:

    Patrick McCauley, she is ‘a good thing.

  • Alistair says:

    I kinda like Tracy Rowland. She appears to understand the deep spiritual vacuum that the Christian Church of today represents …

    “It is sometimes joked that the only moral principle upon which all members of the C of E (Church of England) can agree is that a failure to separate one’s recyclable rubbish from the food scraps bin is gravely anti-social behaviour. ”

    In Australia, Christianity appears to eke out a miserable existence as a quasi-secular delivery vehicle for the left’s social welfare policies. Rowland continued …

    “If the only thing uniting a community is the desire for the community to hold together regardless of the actual beliefs and values of those in the community, then that community may well hold together as a mutual social welfare support service for the weaker members who rely on social welfare, but it will lose its character as a church, as an ecclesial body, and it will hold no attraction for the stronger members of the community who don’t go to Church for the free cup of tea and opportunity to pick over the goods on offer at the second-hand clothes stall. If the provision of social welfare, kindness, care and concern, rather than a common creed, becomes the glue that holds a group together, then the sacramental participation in the life of the Trinity will be very much occluded and ecclesial communities will become hard to distinguish from gatherings of secular humanists and political moralists.”

    She appears to be agreeing with my mate Oswald Spengler :

    A religion that has got as far as taking social problems in hand has ceased to be a religion.

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    Brilliant Alistair – The vast apparatus of Jesuit Social Services now provides accomodation and employment for pedophiles just out of jail – but fails to even mention the victims in its vast offering.

  • Alistair says:

    Yes Patrick,
    The ultimate humiliation for a revered Catholic Saint … The venerable St Vincent De Paul becomes just the proprietor of “Vinnies Op Shop” And I might add … Major Barbara of the Salvation Army has forgone the ‘salvation’ part of her calling and aligned herself with her socialist creator, George Bernard Shaw, now just a distributer of second hand goods. Christianity in the socialist West appears to have been reduced to worse position than the ‘dhimmi’ status that Christianity has under Islamic governments in various Muslim countries. And all by its own hand.

  • Alistair says:

    Incidentally, padmmdpat
    I wouldn’t give in too quickly. There appears to be an alternative “Avignion Pope” on the rise in America.

  • STD says:

    Alistair I would be inclined to agree. Professor Rowland’s , Catholic ‘Weekly’ contribution , was interesting and is thought provoking.- thank you.
    However Patrick McCauley has a point, it would be nice to know her views on Homosexuality, Gay mirage (marriage), Abortion and Euthanasia ,to name a few progressive steps .
    I feel the furnishing of answers here, would greatly enhance our understanding of the type of formation she wants from her students.
    Please forgive my scepticism,I was a student a Notre Dame, all be it for a short spell and did also attend the logos component of my course.
    The School of Nursing has some fine teaching staff, however there are clusters in that faculty- homosexual, Marxist, Progressive.
    I say again there are some fine teaching staff, and they know who they are!
    I was specifically told by a member of the administration staff, who has subsequently left, that in regard to Catholic teaching( Christian teachings) ,”we do not believe in that stuff up here”.

  • Lewis P Buckingham says:

    ‘In Australia, Christianity appears to eke out a miserable existence as a quasi-secular delivery vehicle for the left’s social welfare policies.’
    So, what is to be done?
    Over time, as the Catholic institutions become secularised, they will be ripe for take over or absorption into the welfare system.
    That could range from schools to cemeteries.
    I struggle with the concept of ‘the poor’.
    Who are they?
    Is it the suit that is full of hubris, well off financially who tells people what to do.
    Is it just the widow or orphan, the mentally ill or the disposessed.
    Pandemic excepted, the poor of Sydney, those on welfare, need not lack food, there is plenty available.
    However the street people are disproportionately Catholic in background and need somewhere to meet, pray and attend Mass, where they are accepted.
    Its quite open to set up groups of the laity and anyone interested to start that process.
    The fundamentals must include success in some other organisation, or the group will hit the business cycle and mostly fail.
    In the Archdiocese of Sydney there is growing support for such endeavour, as evidenced by the just announced new Bishop.
    The retired or semi retired priests who have been looking for this will come.
    With the first state primary school, built in Sydney for the multi-handicapped, the call was not for senior teachers.
    The job description was that it was a hard gig, the pay was the same but worth the vocation of teaching.
    The cream of the teaching profession applied.
    The secularists know how to do it, why not us Catholics?

  • Lewis P Buckingham says:

    One of my tasks today is finding what should be preserved in the family archives.
    I came across this in a parish bulletin.
    “A withdrawn Catholicism can find a satisfactory means of co-existence in a modern pagan setting. Seen but not heard we bother nobody and nobody bothers us. We gain a few, we lose a lot. A little Christianity rubs off onto the society around us and no little of the society around us rubs off on our own community……
    Let us place ourselves at His [The Lord’s] disposal in the words of the psalm
    ‘Here am I Lord , I come to do your will’ ”
    18 th January 1980
    Nothing is changed.

  • andrew2 says:

    Lewis P Buckingham, there is something that has changed. Emerging in the last few years from a group of cobbled together liberal and right wing internet “influencers”, there is a younger set of men who are not only proud to call themselves Christian but want Christ to be in every aspect of their lives. They either want to return to the land and farm or build an parallel economy focussed on Christian morality and trust. Time will tell if it works but at least it is there and far from being “seen but not heard” they proudly declare who they are as freedom of religion is one of the most fundamental human rights.

Leave a Reply