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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 It 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

  • Heresy (wrong choice) which means questioning or doubting dogmatic established beliefs
  • Blasphemy (evil-speaking) which is the act of insulting or showing contempt for a religious deity.
  • Apostasy which implies either revolt against or renunciation or abandonment of a prescribed religious duty, especially disloyalty sedition and defection

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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2486 news items

Law360 (subscription)
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 13:45:00 -0800

Law360, New York (February 9, 2016, 4:45 PM ET) -- A proposed class of Genworth investors asked a New York federal court not to toss their stock-drop suit over claims the insurer misled them ahead of delaying a subsidiary's initial public offering in ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 22:00:00 -0800

They see it as a symbolic recantation of changes that Neil Kinnock and then Tony Blair made to bring policy closer to the instincts of the electorate; weird atonement for the sin of caring what people who have voted Conservative might think about Labour.


Sun, 07 Feb 2016 13:41:58 -0800

They just stated facts and Sly influenced or coerced the recantation out of himself, with any further assistance. As a practical matter, the HGH investigation doesn't really matter at this point, because Manning likely will retire after Super Bowl 50 ...

New York Times

New York Times
Mon, 01 Feb 2016 17:05:58 -0800

But one recanted his recantation at the second trial, and the defendants were convicted again in 1976. Mr. Artis was paroled in 1981. In 1985, after state appeals for Mr. Carter's release failed, Mr. Beldock obtained a federal court hearing in Newark ...
Mon, 01 Feb 2016 02:07:30 -0800

A political activist recently jailed on charges of inciting ethnic strife has been released pending appeal after issuing a grovelling public recantation for his purported offense. Serikzhan Mambetalin was freed on January 31 after serving just over a ...


Wed, 20 Jan 2016 16:00:00 -0800

Kim Jong-un loves a good spectacle. Since taking over as supreme leader of North Korea in 2011, he's reportedly built a massively expensive ski resort, had his uncle executed, and claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb. And in a change of strategy from ...

Transitions Online

Transitions Online
Wed, 03 Feb 2016 01:33:45 -0800

On Facebook Mambetalin (pictured) wrote that his statement – described as a “groveling” recantation by EurasiaNet – was prepared by a lawyer, and that in addition to the two-year sentence, he was also banned from all public activities for the next five ...

Billings Gazette

Billings Gazette
Fri, 14 Aug 2015 14:07:28 -0700

Court rules for man convicted in rape recantation case. By KATHRYN HAAKE For The Gazette; Aug 14, 2015; 1. Cody Marble. Linda Thompson/For the Gazette. Cody Marble was accused and convicted of raping a boy while they both were detained in the ...

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