Please, Fr Ambrose and Mary, take it elsewhere, you have already played this game many times -- there is no need for another action replay in this thread.
How many know that Aquinas ordered that even repentant heretics must be killed! Don't believe me? Read the Summa.
I believe you, but please, let's not interpret Aquinas' statement in such a crude sense.
If you read what he actually writes, it is as follows:
"For this reason the Church not only admits to Penance those who return from heresy for the first time, but also safeguards their lives, and sometimes by dispensation, restores them to the ecclesiastical dignities which they may have had before, should their conversion appear to be sincere: we read of this as having frequently been done for the good of peace. But when they fall again, after having been received, this seems to prove them to be inconstant in faith, wherefore when they return again, they are admitted to Penance, but are not delivered from the pain of death."
Notice that Aquinas writes that they "are not delivered from the pain of death" precisely because they "prove [themselves] to be inconstant in faith." It may help to make a comparison here. Why did God impose the sentence of death on Adam after his transgression? Is it not so that evil might not be immortal? Is it not so that Adam might repent of his sin, and thereby rightly dispose himself to accept the gift of salvation offered by our Lord Jesus Christ?
Now, if a man dies truly repentant, our Lord has promised to grant him eternal life. Therefore, the difference for Aquinas is between granting the penitent heretic, who has proved himself likely to fall away from faith again, the opportunity to die in the grace of God and in the peace of the Church, and thereby to attain to the assurance of his salvation, or, by allowing him to fall back into heresy, to possibly let him give himself over to everlasting destruction. Tell me, which of these two would you rather be -- the man who loses his life in this world, but gains it superabundantly in Heaven? Or the one who lives out his days upon the earth, but after his death will perish in unquenchable fire? I think we all know the answer to this question.
In other words, it is analogous to the difference between Adam and Lucifer. Both were sentenced to death as a result of their sin, but the difference is that while Lucifer cannot be restored because for him repentance is no longer possible, Adam on the other hand, though he did not escape the sentence himself, nevertheless saved his soul through turning to God in penitence.
Now, I am not an apologist for murder -- I am not saying that I personally agree with Aquinas, but I am at least willing to consider his point of view without caricaturing it, even if only for the sake of argument -- and no, you needn't agree with him on this point, either, but please, take the time to try and understand exactly why he writes what he does, and don't attribute to him motives that he does not in fact have.
Well stated. While Aquinas may have been in the wrong on matters such as this by our modern standards, we need to undstand that everyone, to some degree, is a product of their time. This does not mean that we should suggest that these people have nefarious motives. C.S. Lewis discusses the fact that people where once burned to death as witches.
The error was not that people who might be casting spells, cursing others, controling their minds, and working for Satan deserve the death penalty. If anyone does, it would be such persons. The error was in believing that there was such thing as these witches in Medieval Europe.
Similarly, we don't need to jump on the sophomoric "let's hate Aquinas" band wagon". For Aquinas, the most important thing in the world is the Salvation of the human person. Nothing worse can happen to a person than for that person to go to hell. Thus, in the case of heretics, the death penalty is a very real possibility because it can lead to the eternal damnation of the the soul. If the heretic is leading others into soul-killing heresy, then there is nothing worse a person can do. If there is nothing worse that a person can do, then for Aquians, the death penalty seems appropriate. Similarly, I agree that Thomas' motives may further be found exactly where Fripod places them.
Now, I am not saying that I agree with Aquinas on this matter. In fact, I think that Aquinas is wrong. However, his motives are not about murder, and I don't think that there is any reason to suggest that Aquinas was a blood thirsty murderer. Keep in mind that when Aquinas made his final confession, his confessor left the confessional weeping and crying, "The sins of a child, the sins of a child."
What is more, I doubt that anyone would deny that there are some EO Saints that have done and said some things that EOs are less than proud of.
Fripod, Great Post!