Last Thursday Professor Tracey Rowland was awarded the the Officers Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. It was conferred by the Polish Ambassador to Australia on behalf of the President of Poland.

The decoration is the highest distinction the Polish government gives to foreign nationals. It is a diplomatic order awarded for enhancing Poland’s standing abroad and contributing to cooperation between Poland and other countries. As such, it is typically awarded to diplomats. As the Ambassador remarked, “It is not often that theologians are recognised by this distinction.”

Prof Rowland is one of the Anglosphere’s foremost experts on the theology of Pope Benedict, and shares with him an interest in theological anthropology and the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. There’s no better introduction to these subjects, I think, than Rowland’s Ratzinger’s Faith. (Her Guide for the Perplexed is a more demanding title for advanced students of theology.)

This Polish award demonstrates that Prof Rowland is also no slouch when it comes to the scholarship of Pope John Paul II. I notice that earlier this year, Rowland presented a paper in Poland on the Civilization of Love in the thought of John Paul II.

Speeches and photos from the conferral are available online. They’re worth a look.