What’s the status of the cause?

Since it has been a little while since posting an update, we wanted to make clear where we are in the process for Father Kapaun’s sainthood and remind you of the importance of your prayers.

As a review, there are four major steps in the process of canonization: Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed and Saint. 

Father Kapaun was named a Servant of God in 1993, which is a somewhat short process where the US Bishops and Dicastery for Saints in Rome give a nod that a serious investigation into a candidate’s life may begin. The Archdiocese for the Military Services opened the cause for Father Kapaun, but at the time did not have the capabilities of pursuing it fully. In 2008 the Diocese of Wichita officially took over and opened the investigation into Father Kapaun’s life.


The next step for Father Kapaun is Venerable.  To be named Venerable means that the candidate’s life has been reviewed, and from the Church’s official perspective, they are worthy of honor and can continue toward sainthood.  There are three different ways this can happen: martyrdom, heroic virtue, or an offering of life.  The Dicastery for Causes for Saints has specific benchmarks they look for in each category.

After much work collecting over 8,000 pages of testimony and evidence, our first postulator, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, compiled a Posito, or statement, on the heroic virtues of Father Kapaun. The Dicastery for Saints eventually met to discuss the case for Father Kapaun in 2021. Unfortunately their requirements for a life of Heroic Virtue are pretty stringent, seeking evidence that it was exhibited for a period of at least 10 years before death. For Father Kapaun, the testimony is clear, they deemed, that he was a good priest, and that the last year of his life was certainly more than heroic, but that before then his virtue didn’t quite exhibit itself in a heroic manner. It is true that there is a lot of testimony that Father Kapaun was a rather normal and ordinary priest before his time in Korea (which should give us all hope that holiness is possible!).

The Offer of Life Path

The Dicastery did not shutter Father Kapaun’s cause, however. Instead, they thought that he might fit the requirements for the new “Offer of Life” path to Venerable. This process focuses on the end of the candidate’s life, proving that he or she offered their life to God for the sake of others in imitation of Christ.  “No one has greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” Jesus says to His Apostles (John 15:13).  Those of us who work toward the cause immediately recognized that there was no shortage of events and choices that Father Kapaun made in the last year of his life that reveal his willingness to offer his life for his men.

In the meantime, Father Kapaun’s remains were identified, and Dr. Ambrosi retired. We eventually were able to hire a new postulator, Dr. Nicola Gori, who works for the Vatican Newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.  He has worked on other causes, most notably that of Carlo Acutis, who was beatified in 2020.

After getting caught up on the cause, Dr. Gori completed work on a new Positio on the offering of life. It is now printed and ready to present to the Dicastery for Saints to await their review.  Dr. Gori is hoping that the theological consulters and the Bishops who vote on the Dicastery for Saints will be able to review it sometime in 2024, so it’s a great time to continue to hit the kneeler and pray for Father Kapaun’s cause!

In the recent past some word also came out about potentially new information from the Department of Defense regarding Father Kapaun’s martyrdom.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be some statistics regarding the death of captured chaplains, and while notable, did not prove any malicious intent on the part of the captors.  While we have always put forward the testimony of the Prisoners of War in regard to martyrdom, at this time it appears our best path is with the Offer of Life. That said, only God knows what doors the Holy Spirit could open up in the future.

Miracles and Prayers

Looking beyond this, if the Offer of Life is approved, then the Holy Father has the final decision to bestow upon Father Kapaun the title of Venerable.  This would be an exciting step and would allow us to move onto more exciting things: miracles!  The Dicastery for Saints wisely waits until a person is named Venerable before reviewing potential miracles. 

We actually have up to 5 or 6 alleged miracles that we think might be worthy of investigation, some occurring as recently as last year.  Again, while no miracles have been reviewed yet- let alone proven- it does seem to us that Father Kapaun continues to be at work.  One of these miracles would be needed to advance Father Kapaun to Blessed, and then a new miracle would need to occur to move him onto Sainthood.  But for the present, we seem to be in a good situation.

I know this is a lot of information to take in, and yes, it’s still a lengthy process.  But the door continues to be open for Father Kapaun’s cause, and we continue to be encouraged by the Holy Spirit’s workings.  As we’ve been saying for many years, now is really the time for us to continue to pray and share.  Pray for the advancement of the cause, but also to bring the people around us to Father Kapaun.  He continues to go around to the foxholes of this world to bring our Lord to those in need, and as he said: “The peace which God gives is a gift which exists even in suffering, in want, or even in time of war.”

Thank you for all you do to share Father Kapaun’s story with others.  It is amazing to see how devotion has spread to all 50 States and even internationally to several other countries.  Your efforts of prayer and sharing are having a big impact, so please keep them up.

Servant of God Emil Kapaun, pray for us!

Father John Hotze, Episcopal Delegate for Father Kapaun’s Cause for Sainthood