From Fix: Conscience is a pupil, not a teacher.
What a wonderfully concise and powerful statement. If I may, I might use the word “chalkboard” vs pupil to emphasize my point.
Conscience is a vehicle where the Holy Spirit talks to us and guides us. Everything written there by the Holy Spirit is as truthful as what is taught by the Magisterium. Unfortunately, for some reason which only God understands, we are able to also “write” on the “chalkboard” and it is hard (but not impossible) for us to sometimes discern what was written by the Holy Spirit and what was written by us (and may have been influenced by Satan).
It is this reality which “necessitated” the Word becoming Incarnate.
From Fix: Truth is always superior to conscience. The Church teaches as Christ.
Truth is superior to untruth. There is no distinction between Truth revealed via Christ through the Church or via the Holy Spirit through the concience (chalkboard).
The problem arises and the Church acknowledges that we imperfect people can have problems distinquishing whether what is written on the chalkboard is from teh Holy Spirit.
To aid us in this, the Church gives us the wise direction that we can have absolute confidence on those matters determined to be infallible and reasonable confidence on other matters that they are from Christ.
When confronted with a conflict between that from the Church (Christ) and what we percieve to be from the Holy Spirit, we are to know that there can be no conflict (Truth is Truth) and to rely in submission to that from Christ.
But it doesn’t require us to just dismiss what is on the chalkboard as not being from the Holy Spirit. We are to struggle and try to reconcile the conflict by discerning what are writings from the Holy Spirit and what is from our own scribblings.
From Fix: So, to claim your conscience does not allow you to assent in these matters would actually mean you do not accept Christ is the authority behind the Church, right?
Not necessarily. While fully accepting Christ as the guide of the Church, he can just be saying that his chalkboard is a little messy.
However, there may be something on the chalkboard that the Holy Spirit wants him to discern (when discerned will be consistent w/ the Truth) via a conscious effort to clean up his chalkboard through prayer and using the “study guide” provided by the Magisterium. The fact that this issue is raised to an issue of “conflict” while for others it is a non-issue makes it at least concievable that the Holy Spirit wants to use this issue as a vehicle to erase the errant scribblings on his conscience.
After this long dissertation, it takes me back to the OP’s original question (“I am wondering what Catholics who have faced similar situations themselves have done. Did you ask a priest for clarification?”). In addition to the prayer effort below, I would go to a Priest for information (theological and historical ) that will appeal to our reason. Like St. Pascal said during the counter reformation, obstacles to knowing God built on “unreason” can best be torn down by “right reason.”
First, I would take to prayer and thank God for this struggle. I would be grateful that it isn’t one that is more personal in nature (i.e. a struggle with lust, etc.) and in my mind more likely to be damning. (Please don’t make this a debate about which is more damning. I’m just talking about how I would approach this through prayer)
Second, I would pray for wisdom to discern what is the “obstacle” that is causing me to struggle with this particular teaching. Is it ego that is imposing his personal sense of fairness on the issue? Or is it something else? If the obstacle is one I built, I may be called to tear it down.
Third, I would thank God in gratitude that He is there to aid my discernment.
Fourth, I would pray for humility to subjugate my will and reason for that of God. I need to acknowledge that my will and reason is inferior to His.
Fifth, I would thank God in gratitude that He is the source of Truth and not myself.
Finally, I would thank God for this opportunity to come to Him in prayer and discernment as I aspire to do His will and experience His Love.
OP, this may not work for you. But you asked for how I would deal w/ it. Trust me, I’ve been there many times on other issues. And, for me, I’m always amazed by the Eureka moment that results. God never fails us.