It may be addressed to the whole Church, to part of it, or to some individuals.
The first motu proprio was issued by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484. It continues to be a common form of rescript, especially when establishing institutions, making minor changes to law or procedure, and when granting favours to persons or institutions.
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.
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