From a reader…
When a pope dies, what happens to the motu proprios that he may have written – do they die with him?
For example, when Pope Francis dies, what happens to the motu proprio on the TLM?
Which motu proprio about the Traditional Latin Mass?
The Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio by John Paul II called “Ecclesia Dei“?
The Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio by Benedict XVI called “Summorum Pontificum“?
The cruel Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio by Francis called “Traditionis custodes“, his Plessy v. Ferguson and now a shameful landmark in his legacy?
A motu proprio, as the term suggests, is something issued on the legislator’s “own initiative”. An MP can be for the sake of establishing some Pontifical institution or perhaps proclaiming a saint to be patron of this or that, as John Paul II did in 200o for St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen and Politicians, which carried with it liturgical honors as well. They are often “rescripts” used for all sorts of tasks, particularly in response to some issue or exigency.
What legitimate Popes establish endures, unless they indicate a time frame for it to expire.
When Popes die, their legacy of law continues in force unless something that a subsequent legitimate Pope changes, overrides or undoes.
Hence, whatever is established by a legitimate Pope by means of an MP continues to be in force after the death – or I guess resignation, now – of the same until his successor makes changes.
I’m reminded of a great line in the murder mystery Gosford Park. The Maggie Smith character, true to form in her quintessential dowager role, comments to the lady of the house about their little canine.
“You’ve still got that vile little dog, I see.”
“Yeah, the ones you hate last forever.”
So, too, with certain MPs and certain other aspects of this wonderous, indefectible, luminous Church in the 21st century.
And it has ever been so.
But the clock keeps ticking and the Church still belongs to Christ and in Heaven these worries do not trouble the blessed.
An important thing about MPs should be clarified, however. Although an MP can still have force even when the grounds it is based on are false or even lies, it cannot overturn other rights which have been acquired through custom or through law unless the MP manifestly says it does.