Krakow, the city that gave us the WYA Charter

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My sister, Mary, once had a shirt made for me that said “I wrote the Charter”. Hundreds of thousands of young people have now signed this WYA Charter that was finalized in Krakow, Poland.

Krakow, one of the medieval centerpieces of the world was a market town in which east meets west, and people traded goods, ideas, languages and religion. Krakow, invaded countless times an in living memory invaded by Nazis 6378then Communists, before being liberated by the faith and freedom of its own people who, “living in the truth”, peacefully brought down the most powerful regime in the world. Krakow, this amazing city, which gave us Saint John
Paul II the Great – a man who inspired me and so many others to give our lives to build a culture of life. Looking back at it, I am very grateful that Krakow was the place in which the final version of our Charter was written. As a town, it embodies much of what WYA hopes to accomplish.

In Krakow, when I wrote the Charter, I was helped by two Americans who remain very important to me. One, an international thinker and author, prolific and fearless in his defense of the human person, was the chosen biographer of John Paul II. The other was a young seminarian, setting out on his life and a vocation that has born great fruit. They hunched over drafts with me, pointed out missed words, highlighted critical ideas, and endured the endless back and forth that has made our Charter the key document that continues to embody what WYA stands for today.

I was in Krakow to attend a seminar on the idea of the free society, convened at the request of JPII himself. His desire was for young Poles to teach Americans what it is to fight for freedom, and for the Americans to teach the Poles what it is to live in a country that is free. John Paul II always understood that we must know what we believe, and we must also be able to live it. Ideas uprooted from life descend into ideology. But ideas rooted in our attempt to actually live them out, gain power and life-giving strength from their contact with reality. This has been a fundamental insight to our work and efforts at WYA.

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Polish and German WYA Europe Regional Intern Alex invites young people in Krakow, Poland to join the World Youth Alliance at the 2016 World Youth Day.

Seventeen years since the founding of WYA the world has changed. But the charter of WYA stands because it captured eternal truths about the nature of the human person, our dignity and freedom, and the obligation that each of us has to stand in solidarity for the truth. WYA invites young people to stand for human life, to stand for human freedom, and to stand for the truth by learning both to embody these truths in the way we live, and to share this with the world around us. WYA believes that to defend the dignity of the person we must know it; and to know it, we must first be shown it, and experience this reality in the depth of our own being. 

Krakow and Poland once showed the world the miracle of “a forest of awakened consciences” which set the world on fire. By risking everything in order to live in the truth, they freed their country from communist dictatorship and earned the awe and gratitude of the world.

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Young Germans pose with WYA’s Mascot Wyanda after signing the World Youth Alliance Charter at the 2016 World Youth Day held at Krakow, Poland.

WYA has members who continue to give everything in order to live in the truth. For some of us, we live this through our daily work. For others it is through hidden lives, buried within families and convents, but each giving themselves in radical and complete ways to the care and defense of the dignity of each person.

For all of us, the obligation to stand for human life and the dignity of each person is ours.

WYA ensures that each of our voices count. We stand in solidarity with those whose voices cannot be heard. We give what we have to build a world that respects life and freedom for all.

Will you join me today in signing this charter?

Written by Anna Halpine, Founder and CEO of the World Youth Alliance.

WYA invites its members around the world to join WYA’s membership campaign on #GivingTuesday by inviting at least 1 friend to become a WYA member. 1 lucky new WYA member per region will receive a special ticket to WYA’s 18th Birthday Ball on March 25, 2017 in New York City. Click here to join the campaign.