I have been participating in a Catholic RCIA class for the past few months (round two, after a previous attempt several years ago). In the class, it has been brought up by the instructors and assistants that Catholics are obliged to follow their informed consciences, even if their conscience urges them to violate Church teaching. I have been doing some studying on this issue, as I do not believe that is an accurate representation of Church teaching.
What does Orthodoxy teach about the role of conscience? If one believes a Church teaching is false, can one claim the guidance of conscience, and then proceed how they wish?
After reading through the thread, I think some people are getting it wrong regarding the WAY in which you were informed regarding the obligation to follow your conscience.
I do not think your teachers meant following your conscience at the expense of following, for example, the moral code of the 10 Commandments. Hmmmm, the Church and Bible tell me not to bear false witness, but I think I SHOULD bear false witness on a daily basis.
In the sense of conscience being the "good angel on our shoulder" and us not listening and feeling bad when we do wrong anyway (listening to the bad angel on the other shoulder, so to speak) - that is where our consciences can get seared and of course a seared conscience in that sense can NEVER trump the Church (or even the Bible if you are a protestant sola scriptura-ist).
But, if I have Jews in my basement and the Gestapo is at the door asking if I am hiding Jews and I THINK the Church tells me in an absolutist sense to NEVER bear false witness to my neighbor, even if he is Gestapo, (whether Rome or Constantinople actually teaches such an absoluitst view of ethics, is debatable, but in this example, the Orthodox or RC Christian THINKS that is what the Church teaches and he doesn't feel right in his conscience about giving up Jews to the Gestapo, so then 100% he should follow his conscience over the Church (at least over what he thinks or understands the Church to teach, because, for him, it is the same thing ethically, even if he is wrong about what the Church really does teach and especially if he has taken any care to understand his faith and his Church but just has it wrong, or had a priest that got it wrong, whatever - see Orthonorm's post that we can NEVER escape subjectivity).
What about anathemas against Jews that CAME from the Church? It pains MY conscience that the Church ever made those and I would hope I would have stood against the Church regarding those had I lived in those days (although I likely would not have; hindsight is 20/20 and I likely would have the same prejudices as my culture).
The sense that your instructors are refering to, it seems to me, fall into this category of moral dilemma, when the Church's teaching (or perceived teaching) doesn't square with the reality on the ground (I have Jews in my basement and Nazis at my door) or the Church is acting in a manner INCONSISTENT with its own ethics and the love of God.