Last week, the Vatican has announced the names of the winners of the 2020 Ratzinger Prize for Theology, considered as equivalent to a Nobel Prize in theology. Melbourne-based Professor Tracey Rowland was named one of two winners of the prestigious Prize.

Professor Rowland is the first Australian and the third woman to win the prize, which honours her work on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger.

The Ratzinger Foundation, also known as The Pope Benedict XVI Foundation, is a charitable organization whose aim is ‘the promotion of theology in the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger.’ It was established by Pope Benedict in 2010, with the idea of promoting studies and publications on the teachings of Benedict. The award recognises scholars who perform promising research relating to or expounding upon his work.

Professor Rowland commented: ‘I was of course very pleasantly surprised to receive the news.’

Professor Rowland holds the St John Paul II Research Chair of Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia and teaches at both its campuses in Fremantle and Sydney. Her area of expertise is in the fields of political philosophy, fundamental theology and theological anthropology.

She is an expert on Pope Benedict XVI and has published widely on the relationship between theology and culture in the 20th century.

Professor Rowland continued: ‘Although the award winners have been announced for 2020, the actual ceremony will not take place until November. It is only at the award ceremony that some announcement is made about aspects of the winner’s work that attracted the attention of the selection panel.’

Professor Rowland is the former dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, and was appointed a member of the International Theological Commission by Pope Francis in 2014.

For the last decade, the Prize has been awarded to two individuals each year, accompanied by A$125,000 prize money.

Professor Rowland is sharing the 2020 award with French philosopher Professor Jean-Luc Marion, an expert in phenomenology. The award ceremony will take place on 14 November at the Vatican in the presence of Pope Francis.