As integral practitioners we want to notice when people in the public arena are thinking, talking or behaving integrally, whether or not they’ve ever heard of integral theory. One such person is our amazing new Pope Francis.

I for one hear the integral dog whistle coming through in his comments. I was hooked when I read the following from a remarkably casual interview with an Italian journalist:

Sometimes after I have a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is criss-crossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.

When confronted with the scandals in the church, he said it had “virtues and sins” like any institution, and urged journalists to focus on “truth, goodness and beauty” in the course of their work.

Smells like integral thinking to me! The change Francis has brought to the mood and priorities of the church have been pretty profound already. Like his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, he projects a true humility and is much less interested in the trappings of power than in learning how the church can help the underserved. “Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers,” he said. “The court is the leprosy of the papacy.”

He seems adept at taking multiple perspectives (“People move toward what is good in their own minds,”) and is genuinely curious and inquisitive. He wants to notice what new wisdom is coming online in the world that can be instructive to the church. He speaks about the evolution of the office of the pope, and the role he is playing. He has a sense of being a new man, reborn by his extraordinary circumstances, which provides a challenge for all of us who are consciously evolving to continue to see ourselves in new ways.

Any pope is a major world figure spiritually, culturally and politically. As the head of the largest church in the world — 1.2 billion members — a pope regularly draws crowds of hundreds of thousands of people. His every comment is examined and considered. And as the Vicar of Christ, the latest in an unbroken lineage that leads back to St. Peter, Francis’ ascension to the papacy is seen by the faithful as the work of God. So unlike other progressive cultural and political figures, he cannot be written off, especially by the conservatives in the church itself.

Later in the call I segue into the tug-of-war in our own government between the progressives and conservatives. Integral theory shows us that political sensibilities are largely a function of developmental altitude: amber traditionalists are generally conservative and green postmodernists are generally liberal. But political orientation can be colored as well by typology — a personality spectrum which precedes belief in a specific system or ideology, such as an enneagram type or a Meyers-Briggs portrait.

And finally, conservative and liberal impulses can also be seen as polarities which reside naturally within any human system, and indeed within our own individual psyches.  I illustrate my point by looking at the latest crazy-making (to me) comments by my favorite “conservative liberal”, New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd.

Listen to the call and as usual, leave your own perspective in the comments section below!

Listen to an excerpt below. The full audio is premium content on integrallife.com