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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

  • 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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Luther (2003) - His answer about the recantation.


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1523 news items

The Nation Newspaper

The Nation Newspaper
Sat, 07 Nov 2015 15:08:12 -0800

Nigeria's depressing and often humiliating politics is occasionally enlivened by letter wars of an exceedingly high quality, if not in style, then at least in vitriol. The recent war between Edwin Clark, an octogenarian Ijaw leader and former ...

Huntington Herald Dispatch

Huntington Herald Dispatch
Mon, 30 Nov 2015 21:07:59 -0800

"Your honor, I need to also inform Mr. Hammers, and I have forwarded this on to his office, but I have a full, complete recantation from the alleged victim in this matter with (the victim's) statement," he said. Farrell said since the information was ...

Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)

Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:41:15 -0800

... the University of Iowa; the strangely anticlimactic war years, including an unsuccessful bid to serve in the Office of War Information; the panicked recantation of his Communist sympathies in the dawning days of the House Un-American Activities ...

York Daily Record/Sunday News

York Daily Record/Sunday News
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 11:38:06 -0800

The victim's mother has said that Evans also told her about the phone calls from the brothers. When asked after court whether the recantation could affect George Rainey's case, defense attorney John Hamme said that it gives his client the chance to get ...
Mon, 30 Nov 2015 14:07:30 -0800

Meanwhile, as we all wait for their apprehension, you should send them a cease and desist letter, and demand retraction or recantation of their misplaced allegations of corruption against you, call upon them to take down the article from their system ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 08:07:30 -0800

Innocent prisoners have all types of innocence claims: new evidence, DNA evidence, witness recantation, prosecutorial misconduct, and ineffective counsel claims. The problem is that most of our prosecutors fight us tooth and nail. Rather than trying to ...

Daily Kos

Daily Kos
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:56:14 -0800

They believed Johnson's recantation was a lie and decided to charge him with perjury. The vindictive and overzealous charge was a message to all potential witnesses to not come forward with recanted testimony. Journalist Rob Warden called it “one of ...
Visayan Daily Star (press release)
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 18:37:30 -0800

In his affidavit of recantation dated Nov. 12, De la Torre claimed that the words in his October 29 affidavit were not his and that these were all fabricated and supplied by Marlo Amago, who allegedly intimidated him and forced him against his will to ...

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