See a diagram of Fr. Emil J. Kapaun's Path to Sainthood
Servant of God The title given to a candidate for sainthood whose cause is still under investigation, prior to beatification. Father Kapaun was named a Servant of God in 1993.
Venerable The second stage in the process occurs after a diocese or religious institute and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has conducted a rigorous investigation into the person’s life and writings to determine whether he or she demonstrated a holy life and heroic level of virtue. A "Positio Super Vita, Virtutibus et Fama Sanctitatis" (Statement on the Life, Virtue and Holy Reputation) on the Servant of God is compiled and studied by the Congregation for Saints. If approved, the candidate can be called Venerable.
Note: On November 9, 2015, Bishop Kemme presented the Positio to the Congregation for Saints. In June of 2016 we received word that Father Kapaun's Positio passed the Historical Commission at the Congregation for Saints. Sometime in 2017 we hope the Theological Commission will have a chance to review it as well. From there, the cause will go to a group of Cardinal and Archbishop Consultors who will judge it and make their recommendation to the Holy Father who must give the ultimate approval of the Positio.
Beatification The next stage in the process is beatification. This means that Public Veneration of the candidate will be allowed on a diocesan level. In order to be beatified, a Servant of God must have a miracle attributed to his intercession to give greater evidence that he is in heaven with God. This miracle must take place after his death. The miracle is investigated by the Congregation of Saints in a similar way to the Positio, albeit by a different team. Martyrs — those who died for their faith — can be beatified without evidence of a miracle. Although we have received word that Fr. Kapaun will not be named a martyr, we are confident and hopeful in the two alleged miracles that we are preparing for investigation.
Canonization The process by which the Church formally declares a person to be in heaven and enrolls him in the "Canon" or official list of saints. Another miracle, having occurred after his beatification, is needed, to show that God indeed approves this step. The universal Church can now celebrate the saint in her liturgies.
What is the Congregation for the Causes of Saints? A department of the Roman Curia, established originally as the Congregation of Rites by Pope Sixtus V in 1588. Reorganized and renamed in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, and again in 1983 by Pope John Paul II. In addition to making recommendations to the pope on beatifications and canonizations, it is also responsible for the authentication and preservation of sacred relics.
Your Role Cardinal Angelo Amato of the Congregation for Saints told us that it was important that we continue to pray for Father Kapaun's cause and that we continue to tell his story. The Congregation likes to choose saints that are well-known. Although Father Kapaun is certainly known by many, you can play an important role in his cause by sharing his story!
Watch a great video on the Process of Canonization by Busted Halo: