Motu proprio

Motu proprio

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A motu proprio (Latin "on his own impulse") is a document issued by the Pope (or by a monarch) on his own initiative and personally signed by him.[1]

When issued by the Pope, a motu proprio may be addressed to the whole Church, to part of it, or to some individuals.[1]

The first motu proprio was issued by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484. It continues to be a common form of Papal rescripts, especially when establishing institutions, making minor changes to law or procedure, and when granting favours to persons or institutions.[2]



An important effect of the issue of a document in this way is that a rescript containing the clause "motu proprio" is valid and produces its effect even in cases where fraud would ordinarily have vitiated the document, since the Pope does not rely on the reasons alleged when he grants a favour.[2] Withholding of the truth in what, according to canonical law, style and practice, must for validity be expressed, normally renders a rescript invalid, but not if the rescript is issued "motu proprio".[3] Consequently, canonists traditionally called the clause the "mother of repose".[2]

However, a motu proprio has no effect in so far as it harms the acquired right of another or is contrary to a law[4] or approved custom, unless it expressly states that it is derogating from these matters.[5]


A motu proprio rescript begins by giving the reasons for issuing it, and then indicates the law or regulation made or the favour granted. It is less formal than a constitution and carries no papal seal. Its content may be instructional (e.g., on the use of plainchant), administrative (e.g., concerning a church law or the establishment of a commission), or merely to confer a special favour.[6]

Notable examples

Other uses of the phrase "motu proprio"

More generically, the Latin phrase is used to indicate "of his own accord" and is thus similar to "sua sponte". It is used very rarely in legal opinions in the United States: the better known term "sua sponte" is preferred. As it relates to a monarch, the term motu proprio describes the condition of a royal decree being made expressly on the sovereign's initiative, a practice more usual in some nations than in others.


  1. ^ a b Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), s.v. motu proprio
  2. ^ a b c Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. Motu Proprio
  3. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 63 §1
  4. ^ According to the article in the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia, a motu proprio was at that time considered valid even if counter to ecclesiastical law.
  5. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 38
  6. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica online, s.v. motu proprio

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • motu proprio — ● motu proprio locution adverbiale (latin motu proprio, de son propre mouvement) Spontanément ; sans y être poussé. ● motu proprio nom masculin et adjectif invariables Acte législatif, apparu au XVe s., qui émane de la propre initiative du pape.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Motu Proprio — Un motu proprio (du latin, « de son propre chef ») est une lettre émise par le pape de sa propre initiative. il peut être adressé à toute l Église, à une Église locale ou à un groupe particulier dans l Église. La lettre commence par l… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Motu Proprio — • The name given to certain papal rescripts on account of the clause motu proprio (of his own accord) used in the document Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Motu Proprio     Motu Proprio …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • motu proprio (de) — (dé mo tu pro pri o) loc. adv. Expression latine qui signifie : de propre mouvement, et qui appartient au style des bulles des papes. •   Ce qui la met [une bulle] le plus hors d état d être reçue au parlement est qu ayant été faite par le pape… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • motu proprio — Loc. lat. que significa literalmente ‘con movimiento propio’. Se usa con el sentido de ‘voluntariamente o por propia iniciativa’: «Si alguien desea declarar motu proprio alguna cosa relacionada con el caso, que se quede» (SchzFerlosio Jarama [Esp …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • Motu proprio — Proprio motu  лат. по собственной инициативе. Особый папский рескрипт. Эта формула употреблялась в практике папских сношений с иностранными державами, когда папа римский не отвечал на сделанное ему предложение, но решал дело как бы… …   Википедия

  • motu\ proprio — [ mɔtyprɔprijo ] loc. adv. et n. m. inv. • 1550; loc. lat. « de son propre mouvement », lang. de la chancellerie du Saint Siège ♦ Relig. ou didact. 1 ♦ Spontanément, de plein gré. 2 ♦ N. m. Lettre apostolique expédiée par le pape, de sa propre… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • motu proprio — adverbio 1. Uso/registro: elevado. Por propia voluntad: El ladrón se presentó motu proprio en comisaría …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • motu proprio — лат. (моту проприо) по собственному побуждению. Толковый словарь иностранных слов Л. П. Крысина. М: Русский язык, 1998 …   Словарь иностранных слов русского языка

  • Motu proprĭo — (lat., d.i. auf eignen Antrieb), Formel in den päpstlichen Rescripten, die, mit dem Zusatze de certa scientia et de sedis apostolicae plenitudine verbunden, die übrigen Förmlichkeiten, die bei den andern Verordnungen, denen diese Formel nicht… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Motu proprĭo — (lat., »auf eignen Antrieb«), eine seit Innozenz VIII. gebräuchliche Formel in päpstlichen Reskripten, die bedeutet, daß die betreffende Entschließung auf eigner Initiative oder doch selbständiger Erwägung des Papstes beruht, und bewirkt, daß sie …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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