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Doctor Factobend's Recantation in the Bird Basket at St Kilda, Scotland a plate from Dr Prosody (by William Combe 1821, ASIN: B007T2QPX8) at p248

Recantation means a personal public act of denial of a previously published opinion or belief , and is derived from the Latin retractionem (the nominative form of the verb retractio or the past participle of the noun retractareto, meaning "to pull back")


Philosophically recantation it is linked to a genuine change of opinion, often caused by a serious event which reveals a better or more complete representation of a presumed truth. For example, Recantation was the title of a 16th-century book by Bishop Augustine of Hippo correcting his former writings as a ordinary teacher of rhetoric prior to his becoming a cleric which he described as "a recantation of opinion with admission of error"

In classical Roman poetry, after deliberately describing something extravagantly or hyperbolically for memorable dramatic effect, recantation was used to briefly redefine the material subject fairly and honestly.


Religiously recantation may be required to avoid punishment or imposed to obtain pardon from a sin such as

In Protestantism, recantation may be requested by or ordered from an ecclesiastical authority such as a synod or ecumenical council

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Inquisition, Holy Office, or even on rare occasion the contemporary Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) required an act of renunciation to enforce an orthodoxy.

In a secular state if ordered to recant by religious authority, one who refused to recant may be anathematized or excommunicated or subject to social exclusion.

In a theocracy an order to recant may include threats of physical punishment such as prison or corporal punishment which may include death or lethal cruelty such as the burning at the stake suffered by Jeanne d'Arc.

Voltaire famously wrote in his novel Candide:

In this country of England it is thought well to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others!

See also[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recantation — Please support Wikipedia.
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1628 news items

Sat, 18 Apr 2015 18:18:27 -0700

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima does not seem to buy the recantation of a witness in the bribery charge against the Ampatuans and several Department of Justice (DOJ) officials and prosecutors. De Lima said Friday she has directed ...
Manila Standard Today
Fri, 17 Apr 2015 09:28:09 -0700

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima doubts the retraction of the witness in the bribery charge against the Ampatuans and several officials of the Department of Justice. She described witness Jerramy Joson's recantation as “mysterious.” De Lima yesterday ...
Mmegi Online
Sat, 25 Apr 2015 14:33:45 -0700

First, he erred in failing to allow the accused at the time the full opportunity to state his case in extenuation, which could be either a recantation of an earlier version following conviction, or a confession or other explanation following an earlier ...

The Marshall Project

The Marshall Project
Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:07:30 -0700

Judge Priest listened as Martinez, who was seven when she made the accusations and is now 27, offered the fullest narrative to date of her recantation. She appeared nervous and stopped to hold back tears multiple times. She said she was coached to make ...
Thu, 23 Apr 2015 19:11:02 -0700

The mother of a 14-year-old girl said Thursday she was hurt her daughter didn't come to her first with allegations a family member has been sexually abusing her since she was 7. The girl's mother was the first witness defense attorneys called during ...
Premium Times
Fri, 24 Apr 2015 01:26:15 -0700

The Coll review of the retracted Rolling Stone report has supplied useful new guidelines by which the dreaded recantation phone call may be avoided. It turns out that old law books on evidence may be consulted too for additional, cross-over insights on ...

Huffington Post

Religion News Service
Fri, 10 Apr 2015 10:16:22 -0700

The 'Splainer (as in, “You've got some 'splaining to do”) is an occasional feature in which RNS gives you everything you need to know about current events to help you hold your own at a cocktail party. (RNS) Viewers of Masterpiece's “Wolf Hall” might ...

Kansas City Star

Kansas City Star
Fri, 17 Apr 2015 10:00:39 -0700

... ascended the throne in 1553, she tried him for treason and forced him to recant his Protestantism. Which he did, in writing. Then she burned him at the stake in 1556. Legend has it that Cranmer put his right hand — the one that signed his ...

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