VATICAN CITY - A week after the 65th anniversary of Father
Emil J. Kapaun's capture in North Korea, the bishop of
Wichita, Kansas, formally presented a report on the Army
chaplain's life, virtues and fame of holiness to the
Congregation for Saints' Causes.
Bishop Carl A. Kemme of Wichita and a small delegation from
the diocese met Nov. 9 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of
the congregation, and other officials to hand over the 1,066
report known as a "positio."
During the Korean War, Father Kapaun, a priest of the Wichita
diocese, and other members of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry
Regiment, were captured by Chinese troops in North Korea Nov.
2, 1950. The priest died in a North Korean prison camp May
President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor
posthumously to the war-hero priest in a White House ceremony
in 2013, but the men who were imprisoned with Father Kapaun
and the faithful of the Diocese of Wichita had been honoring
him long before that.
"Since the day his fellow prisoners of war in the Korean
Conflict (1950-1953) were liberated after their long and
cruel incarceration, during which Father Kapaun was
instrumental in providing to his fellow soldiers unparalleled
pastoral care, word of his saintly virtue has been spreading
and continues to our day," said a letter Bishop Kemme wrote
and delivered to Cardinal Amato.
"I'm very honored and humbled to be part of this moment,"
Bishop Kemme said after handing over the "positio," which is
based on a long diocesan investigation of Father Kapaun's
life, writings and eyewitness testimony, including with
prisoners who survived the camp.
Andrea Ambrosi, the postulator or promoter of the cause, said
it took 12-13 months to write the volume, which should go to
a team of Vatican historians for review in April.
Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, secretary of the
congregation, told Bishop Kemme and his delegation that if
the historians have no questions and believe the biography
and the information about the circumstances of Father
Kapaun's death are complete, the report would go to a
commission of theologians.
Under normal circumstances, Archbishop Bartolucci said, the
theologians would not get to the report for at least 10
years, but since Father Kapaun is the first sainthood
candidate from the Wichita diocese, it gets precedence. He is
hoping to get the report on the commission's calendar for
"While you are waiting - a year or two - you can work on the
miracle," the archbishop told the bishop.
In fact, Bishop Kemme told him, the diocese already has
identified and is working on the documentation for two
healings. One of them could be the miracle needed for Father
While Bishop Kemme was at the Vatican, supporters of Father
Kapaun's cause were praying. A special novena for the
beatification of Father Kapaun began Nov. 2, the 65th
anniversary of his capture at the Battle of Unsan, and was to
end on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.