[quote="Kevin12, post:11, topic:324779"]
With all due respect, it for much of Church history it was a final punishment, since the excommunicated were turned over to secular authorities. See Aquinas:
[two quotes from Aquinas are omitted because Catholic Answers only wants me to post 6000 characters]]
That Aquinas wrote this has often made me consider throwing away his book and never looking on his work again. I have refrained from this, since there is too much in him that forms the intellectual basis of the church. But if anyone thinks Christians never waged the equivalent of jihad, they are naive.
I don't think either of the examples you gave were the equivalent of jihad. Both of them, in fact, are taken out of context, though that's probably not your fault, because the Summa is written in such a way that it often explains the principles involved in a given teaching in such a way that it gives them one at a time without giving the coherent whole. Now you quoted two of Thomas' observations: the destruction of heretics by the State can be justified, and warfare against unbelievers can be permissible. Both of those are still taught by the Church, when properly understood. But they should be understood within the context of the rest of the Church's doctrines on religious toleration, just war, and capital punishment, and unfortunately, Thomas Aquinas doesn't always put related things in the same context, due to the nature of the kind of book he was writing.
BTW I'm not saying that Thomas Aquinas was perfect in his social doctrine. He misunderstood some of the principles that are part of the Church's teaching, but the elements of it can all be found in him if you are willing to cut him some slack now and then due to the social standards of his time.
Now take his statements about executing heretics. What he says there is that they "deserve" death and that there is "reason" to kill them -- more than there is to kill money forgers. That is true. But just because someone has done something deserving of death does not mean we should give it to them. We aren't the ones in charge of life and death, God is. We can recognize that mortal sins are deserving of death without that implying that "we" may kill mortal sinners.
Because of this and other reasons, there has always been a principle in the Church's social doctrine that says that the death penalty can only be applied when the criminal involved is so violent, pillage-prone, and unstoppable that there is no other option than to kill him. If such a person can be thrown into jail instead, then you have to do that, unless he could still cause harm from there, or if you couldn't contain him -- only in such extreme cases is the death penalty permissible. Heretics ordinarily aren't like that, and the Church has always promoted the principle of religious toleration for heretical sects, except in cases when they start destroying the people around them or pillaging property or whatever else. Violence may only be done to a heretic when he himself is violent, and only for that reason -- that is something the Church has always recognized, and St. Thomas' comments about the destruction of heretics needs to be read in that context.
A similar thing needs to be taken into account when reading his comments on war. What he says there is that the Church does NOT make war against unbelievers in order to bring them to the faith, and that even if we conquered them, we should leave them free to believe in accordance with their free will. That's actually a very important principle in the Church's doctrine of religious toleration (which, again has always been a part of the Church's social doctrine). Yes, Thomas says that we can war against them in order that the faith may not be hindered, but that has to be taken in the context of his doctrine on just war. Thomas knew that war is only justified as a defensive measure and as a last resort when diplomacy fails. When you take that into account, you can begin to see that his comments about going to war in defense of the faith is only permissible if the infidels are invading our lands (or our allies' lands) and suppressing our faith. It needs to be stressed that warfare, according to the just war doctrine, is only permissible as a defensive measure, and that shows up in Thomas, before Thomas, and after Thomas -- it's been our constant teaching.
Anyway, I hope that helps show that St. Thomas shouldn't be thrown away because of his comments on executing heretics and making war against infidels. In the Church's social doctrine, the principle of just war, and our doctrine on capital punishment, and our belief in religious toleration, all come together to forbid any kind of militant jihad, and that's something the Church has always recognized. God bless!