Kapaun to be reconsidered as martyr
The Wichita Catholic diocese has gathered more evidence to support a request for Pilsen native Father Emil Kapaun to be designated a martyr, shortening his path to sainthood.
If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints does declare Kapaun a martyr, he will skip the step of being declared “venerable” and qualifying him as “beatified.”
Beatified is the final step before canonization.
The Vatican originally declined to consider martyr status in 2015 on the grounds that North Koreans and Chinese who operated the prisoner-of-war camp where Kapaun died in 1951 at age 35 wanted all prisoners dead.
Kapaun was declared a servant of God in 1993, the first step toward canonization.
Father John Hotze, who has been studying Kapaun’s case for sainthood for more than 20 years, said additional evidence submitted to the Vatican came from the Department of Defense, Pilsen, and other prisoners-of-war interned at the camp while Kapaun was held there.
“It’s not that it’s new evidence; it’s evidence that has come to light,” Hotze said.
Other prisoners contend the guards singled Kapaun out, doing what they could to hasten his death.
Hotze said the new evidence could change the Vatican’s mind about martyrdom.
Kapaun’s remains were identified last spring and returned to Kansas in September. For three days, his remains were returned to Pilsen before he was entombed in Wichita’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.