In this collection of essays, distinguished Australian theologian Tracey Rowland takes up the relationship of Christ and culture, broadly understood. She contrasts the principles undergirding what St. John Paul II called a “culture of death” with those required for the flourishing of a humanism that flows from the grace of the Incarnation.

Rowland returns frequently to the theological insights of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, to whose thought she is deeply indebted. Drawing upon the Augustinian and Thomist traditions of political theology, she offers a trenchant theological critique of liberalism in all its forms, with attention to our modern attraction to false utopias and accommodationist impulses.

The nine essays in this volume engage such perennial topics as the place of natural law, the theological status of the “world,” and the nature of true humanism, along with timely topics such as the retrieval of the sources of Catholic resistance to Communism and what is now commonly called cultural Marxism. Rowland’s inimitable voice, keen wit, and penetrating insight into the distinctiveness of Catholic truth make this book a landmark volume as the Church today revisits anew its relationship to the world.

About the author:

Professor Tracey Rowland holds two doctorates in theology—the civil Ph.D. from the Divinity School of Cambridge University—and the pontifical S.T.D. from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome.  From 2001-2017 she was the Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne. She currently holds the St. John Paul II Chair of Theology at the University of Notre Dame (Australia).  In 2010 she was awarded the Archbishop Michael J. Miller Award by the University of St. Thomas in Houston for the promotion of faith and culture. In 2011 she was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and in 2014 she was appointed to the International Theological Commission. Her previous books are Culture and the Thomist Tradition, Ratzinger’s Faith, Benedict XVI: A Guide for the Perplexed, and Catholic Theology.


“In this fine collection of essays Tracey Rowland sustains and deepens her articulation of a non-correlationist theology of culture for which culture as formation is nonetheless essential to the theological project. In the course of doing so she shows us what a wise and significant theologian of culture Joseph Ratzinger has been, and why his influence is likely to outlast those of his detractors.”—John Milbank, University of Nottingham

“In this learned collection of essays, Tracey Rowland offers a sober challenge and corrective to the anti-culture generated by modern liberal orders. While engaging a wide range of major figures in this essential study of our theological-political condition—including Wojtyla, Ratzinger, Havel, MacIntyre, and Guardini—Rowland not only distills and integrates but achieves a critical perspective that is distinctive, instructive, and timely.”—Patrick J. Deneen, University of Notre Dame

“The Australian theologian Tracey Rowland is recognized as an internationally esteemed expert in all matters pertaining to Pope Benedict XVI. This precious collection of essays offers a rich, variegated tapestry of topics: from Benedict XVI, culture, Augustine, Thomism, John Paul II, natural law, and Vatican II to ecumenism. New perspectives are being unlocked. The uniting melody is the mystery of the Godman among us. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”—Fr. Emery de Gaál, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL

“We need to be grateful to Dr. Rowland for this volume, which places culture back at the center of the Church’s attention. Drawing chiefly on the thought of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Rowland points out the distinguishing marks of a culture that is truly Christian. By dedicating two chapters on the overthrow of communism in Poland, she also gives a concrete and opportune example of a culture’s successful transformation by the workings of a creative minority.” —Stephan Kampowski, Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Rome

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The Culture of the Incarnation: Essays in Catholic Theology