Since her founding by Christ, the Church on earth has recognized and sought to preserve her identity as “one complex reality” (Lumen Gentium 8) formed of both the invisible and the visible, the charismatic and the institutional. Yet within modern Catholic life and theology the ordered unity of these dimensions is increasingly obscured and undermined by distortive tendencies toward democratization, bureaucratization, and secularization. Such contemporary errors threaten not only the Church’s self-understanding but also her mission to restore all things in Christ. In Unconformed to the Age, renowned Australian theologian Tracey Rowland addresses the theological and ecclesiological deviations underlying the present ecclesial disorder, including the prioritization of praxis over truth, the occlusion of the Cross from its central position in the Church’s life, and the substitution of a secular, corporate vision of the Church for its true construal as Christ’s Body and Bride—“Catholic Inc.” versus communio. Engaging especially with the thought and writings of Joseph Ratzinger as well as other twentieth-century theological luminaries, Rowland provides both insightful diagnosis of these current pathologies and a multifaceted illumination of the mystery of the Church, underscoring the Church’s divinely given vocation to bring all people into communion with the Trinity, imbuing human actions, lives, and cultures with the grace of the Incarnation.


Tracey Rowland (PhD, Cambridge University; STD, Pontifical Lateran University) is the St. John Paul II Chair of Theology at the University of Notre Dame (Australia) and a member of the editorial board of Communio: International Catholic Review. From 2014 to 2019, she was a member of the International Theological Commission and is currently a member of the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences. In 2012, Rowland was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, and in 2020, she was awarded the Ratzinger Prize for Theology. She is the author of Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Benedict XVI, The Culture of the Incarnation: Essays in Catholic Theology, and Beyond Kant and Nietzsche: The Munich Defense of Christian Humanism, among other books.


“For Tracey Rowland, the real ‘clericalism’ enervating the Church is a bureaucratic pseudo-Christianity characterized by endless meetings, documents, and discussions—what she calls ‘Catholic Inc.’ Dedicating this book to ‘the young priests and religious who have offered their lives in the service of something other than a multinational bureaucracy,’ Rowland takes Catholics stuck in the malaise of Catholic Inc. by the scruff of the neck and sets them before their forgotten true love: Jesus Christ. Unconformed to the Age reminds us that the Church is Christ’s bride and not an NGO, something we are given rather than something we create, a theological reality before a sociological one. These essays will enlighten minds, stimulate contemplation, and revitalize vocations. Seldom are prophetic voices so theologically informed.”

Fr. Vincent L. Strand, S.J. Catholic University of America


“The Apostle Paul tells us, ‘Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind’ (Rom 12:2). In this volume of essays, Tracey Rowland provides a clarion call for the renewal of our mind to know and love the Church—and not try to conform the Church to the dictates of the present Zeitgeist.”

Fr. Andrew Hofer, O.P. Dominican House of Studies


“As one may expect of a Ratzinger Prize awardee, with unequalled precision Tracey Rowland shares with the reader critical ecclesiological fault lines as they have developed over the past seventy years. Rowland points to the real danger of the Church mutating into a faceless bureaucracy. Catholics must master the transition from a pre-Vatican II view of the Church as hierarchy, to understanding her foremost as the Church from the Cross and the side of Jesus Christ. From the Eucharist and from the altar she must be the Church ever afresh—as Communio with the Lord and the Saints. Rowland ably demonstrates that while the human lens may change, the Church remains actually selfsame. Unconformed to the Age is theological mystagogy! This is a most necessary, healing, and uplifting book!”

Fr. Emery de Gaál Mundelein Seminary 


“In this book, the eminent Ratzingerian scholar Tracey Rowland addresses central topics related to ecclesiology, old and new. She demonstrates that Tradition is in our Catholic DNA, and she does it with both erudition and elegant simplicity, which makes her a disciple of Joseph Ratzinger, in content and even in style. This is a rich and keenly insightful book that will gain the attention of faraway readers, like me, a Byzantine Catholic delighted to read such a necessary mysteric Theology.”

Alin Tat Babeș-Bolyai University


“With her new book, Tracey Rowland confirms her position as one of the first-ranking Catholic theologians in the world. As with her previous publications, she demonstrates an impeccable ear for hearing which theological issues are central to our current debates. This book is grounded in the conviction that the Catholic Church is the salt and light of the world; everything that happens in the Church has a direct impact on the course of human history. Rowland emphasizes that the Church is always called to respond to human history and culture with the transforming light of the Gospel and the supernatural power of Christ’s saving grace. The reader can recognize in this book familiar traits of Rowland’s writing: fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church combined with the courage to ask difficult questions, impeccable theological scholarship combined with a broad cultural erudition, historical analysis of discussed issues combined with the proper judgment. This book should become an obligatory reading for students of ecclesiology.”

Fr. Jarosław Kupczak, O.P. Pontifical University of John Paul II

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Unconformed to the Age: Essays in Catholic Ecclesiology