As I said I would, I asked Paul what he thought of the idea that conscience might guide us to what's right, rather than what feels good. His response was to tell me to read some of his more recent posts, and the comment-conversations in those posts would make his position clearer. I have started to do this, and found one which qualifies.
In a post called "It's really very simple", in May of 2008, Paul is talking about how some famous supporters of abortion have been allowed to receive communion in a mass conducted by the pope. To him, this means (I think...) that either abortion is in fact correct in the eyes of the church, or the bishops are negligent. Not that the bishops might genuinely act in a way that is wrong (impossible), but that it must be that either his understanding of "wrong" is wrong, or the bishops just didn't realize what they were doing.
His response when pressed on this by a commenter who was not familiar with how the Catholic church works was interesting. The question was:
3. If your current bishop appears to violate cannon law, are you obligated to follow that bishop? Or can you follow a bishop with a different diocese that you consider more faithful?
and Paul responded:
3. No. My bishop is my bishop. The only appeal from my bishop is to the Bishop of Rome.
But the important question is not who best conforms to what I "consider more faithful". The question is what's true. I am not competent to judge the compliance of my bishop with canon law, much less the compliance of the entire national bishops' conference. As a layman and a regular guy, I look to them, not my own conscience, to be taught the truth. And what I am taught by them is that there is no conflict between support for abortion and being in full communion with the Church.
Because if there were such a conflict, to do so would place in jeopardy the soul of the person receiving unworthily, and would give scandal to the faithful. Surely my bishop, the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago (who also happens to be President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops), nor any other bishop would not tolerate such an occurrence to be repeated every Sunday within his jurisdiction.
Therefore, since even the Holy Father tolerated the reception of communion by famous pro-abortion politicians at masses at which he was the principle celebrant, clearly there can be no conflict.
So, Paul and I have a fundamental disagreement. Paul trusts his church leaders more than his conscience. Question to anyone for whom this is true: If you can't trust your conscience, how can you know you've chosen the "true" church, and should accept the positions taken by its leaders? I don't get it, and the fact that you have no basis to question your leaders seems to create a rather large opportunity for abuse of power.
I will give him one thing, though: if he has another way of determining the truth of the church, his position that conscience is not primary would be logically consistent (not necessarily correct, but not inconsistent). Many people would waffle, and he doesn't. I just wonder what his non-conscience truth-finder is...