As the potentially divisive election neared, the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Portland joined about 20 other faith and civic leaders in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square to make a plea for peace and issue a warning against election related violence.

Franciscan Sister Veronica Schueler and the Oct. 30 United in Spirit event may have had an effect; strife in Portland cooled after the election results became clear.

“There comes a time when people of goodwill, whether nationally or locally, must reach out to their fellow citizens. Now is that time,” Sister Veronica said as passersby listened. She acknowledged peaceful protests for racial justice but asked for an end to violence and vandalism.

“While we acknowledge that the destruction of property is of secondary concern to violence against people, we condemn all forms of violence,” she said. “Our appeal is for civil discourse. We ask every person of goodwill to pursue conciliation rather than polarization.”

Sister Veronica said Catholics’ response to the world is informed by faith and church social teaching.

“We decry racism in every form and hold that its elimination is a crucial life issue,” she said. “We support peaceful protests, but we join with those who seek an end to all violence, especially violence that has resulted in injury or death.”

She said every systemic evil begins with the personal choices of individuals.

“Every person must take responsibility for examining his or her own part in contributing to racism and violence,” she said. “We call on everyone to do this, to put our collective energy toward redeeming what Pope St. John Paul II has called America’s ‘original sin’ and we ask for calm and civil discourse so that this can happen.”

Organizations allied for the day included the Archdiocese of Portland, Chabad of Oregon, he Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Congregation Kesser Israel, Congregation Neveh Shalom, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, Franciscan Spiritual Center, Native American Youth and Family Center, Portland Kollel, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church and the West Alliance for Inclusive Community.

Also before the election, a group from St. Ignatius Parish in Southeast Portland held an online prayer to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“This is not a gathering of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, and it is not a gathering to pray for the victory of one candidate over the other,” the facilitator said. “This is a gathering of God’s people, in which we open our hearts to receive God’s peace as we support one another in this time of great suspense, fear and hope for our future.”

The prayer also quoted Pope Francis, who said, “Good politics combines love with hope and with confidence in the reserves of goodness present in human hearts.”