Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION XI.: OF HERESY. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION XI.: OF HERESY. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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Article I.—Is heresy a species of unbelief?
R. The name heresy signifies choice or election. Now election is of means to the end, the end being presupposed. In matters of belief the principal truth bears the character of the last end, and the secondary truths the character of means to the end. And because whoever believes, assents to some one’s word, the principal object, and what we may call the scope and aim in every inclination to believe, is the person whose word is acquiesced in: the tenets held in consequence of that acquiescence are secondary things. So then whoever rightly holds the Christian faith, acquiesces by his will in the word of Christ, in the things which truly belong to Christ’s doctrine. Therefore there are two possible ways of deviation from the straight path of Christian faith. One way is by refusal to take the word of Christ. Whoever takes this way, has an evil will with regard to the very scope and aim of faith. Such is the species of unbelief found in Pagans and Jews. Another way is that of intending indeed to take the word of Christ, but at the same time failing in the election of articles whereon to take that word; because you elect not those articles which are truly taught by Christ, but those which your own mind suggests to you. And therefore heresy is a species of unbelief, belonging to those who profess the faith of Christ, but pervert His doctrines.
Article III.—Are heretics to be tolerated?1
R. With regard to heretics two elements are to be considered, one element on their side, and the other on the part of the Church. On their side is the sin whereby they have deserved, not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be banished from the world by death. For it is a much heavier offence to corrupt the faith, whereby the life of the soul is sustained, than to tamper with the coinage, which is an aid to temporal life. Hence if coiners or other malefactors are at once handed over by secular princes to a just death, much more may heretics, immediately they are convicted of heresy, be not only excommunicated, but also justly done to die. But on the part of the Church is mercy in view of the conversion of them that err; and therefore she does not condemn at once, but “after the first and second admonition,” as the Apostle teaches:1 “After that, however, if the man is still found pertinacious, the Church having no hope of his conversion, provides for the safety of others, cutting him off from the Church by the sentence of excommunication; and further she leaves him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated from the world by death.
[1 ]A question to ask in the nineteenth century! The changes of the last six hundred years may be reduced to three heads.
[1 ]Titus iii. 10.