He died May 23, 1951 and was buried in a mass grave on the Yalu River.
In April 2013, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the United States' highest military honor.
Now the Catholic Church is considering whether he should be beatified.
Six historical consultants of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints have evaluated the documents in his case for completeness and accuracy. They approved them at a June 21 meeting in Rome.
"This news cannot be perceived as anything but a great sign," Fr. John Hotze said June 23. The priest of the Wichita diocese is the episcopal delegate of the Office of Canonization of Fr. Emil Kapaun.
"This is a great step forward and recognition of the work we've done and of the life of Father Kapaun, and has happened much more quickly than I had anticipated."
Fr. Hotze said that canonizing a saint has never been taken lightly.
The vote sends Fr. Kapaun's cause to the theological consultants who will review the priest's writings and teachings for conformity with Catholic doctrine and teaching. Their approval would send the case to a panel of the congregation's cardinals and bishops, which could vote to send the case to Pope Francis for final approval.
Separately, medical consultants are examining evidence of alleged miracles attributed to the priest's intervention. One miracle must be approved for Fr. Kapaun's beatification, and a second for his canonization.