THE Continuation of moderatesized family farms as a central value for a healthy US farm economy is the focus of the recently published "Food and Agriculture" chapter of the first draft of the US bishops' proposed pastoral letter "Catholic Social Teaching and the US Economy".
The pastoral is being drafted by a five-bishop committee .headed by Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee.
The first draft, which was made public last November with a note that the then unfinished fifth chapter would be released later, attacked almost every aspect of President Reagan's economic policy, and launched a public debate on the "social and moral scandal" of poverty in the United States.
One critic of the draft claimed that it was "more socialist than Catholic" and that when it went into specific policy issues, the judgements were political rather than moral in nature. Others said that the bishops were not sufficiently qualified to make statements on the US economy, although Archbishop Weakland emphasised that their aim was to "reflect as teachers and pastors on the effects, both good and bad, that the economy had on people."
Rural Catholic leaders in Minnesota gathered for a daylong symposium last week to discuss the new chapter of the pastoral. Most of the state's bishops, about 100 clergy and lay leaders were united in urging the US bishops to make more specific policy recommendations on food and agriculture.
Mr Daniel Rush Finn a theologian and economist who heads the theology department of St John's University, allegedly said that the chapter was on target when it argued recently for saving mediumsized family farms as a significant part of the US agricultural economy.