- Posted October 5, 2012 by
Catholic priest reported missing in Athens:worried family of Fr Christiaan Kappes last heard from him on Monday before he was due to depart Athens for the US
The family of Catholic cleric Christiaan Kappes (36), from Franklin in Indiana, said they last heard from him over the telephone on Monday October 1. They have been raising awareness in their local media since.
His sister, Nadia Kappes Charcap, told this newspaper that she is very concerned for his safety and believes that he may have become embroiled in a dispute over a friend's inheritance.
Charcap said her family had received a stream of calls from Fr Kappes, who also goes by the name Chris, over last weekend in which he seemed extremely concerned for his personal safety and that of his translator, an Athens woman called Ioanna Lekakou.Charcap said her family had received a stream of calls from Fr Kappes, who also goes by the name Chris, over last weekend in which he seemed extremely concerned for his personal safety and that of his translator, an Athens woman called Ioanna Lekakou.
He claimed there was a large conspiracy to defraud his translator of 70,000 euros that she had made from selling some property that she had inherited.
The priest also claimed that Lekakou had to go to hospital after she was beaten up.
Charcap accepted that the story sounded bizarre but she said her brother seemed convinced that he and Lekakou were in grave danger.
They advised him to go to the US embassy to seek help. An embassy spokesperson was able to confirm that the pair visited the embassy on Monday but he underlined that they did not seek a safe haven.
Fr Kappes expressed concerns about his and Lekakou’s safety and that he discussed his options with embassy staff, the spokesman continued.
According to Charcap, the priest decided that he and Lekakou would leave Greece for Indianapolis on separate flights.
Virgil Kappes told Fox59 TV that he spoke to a priest, Fr George, who reportedly dropped off his son and Lekakou at Athens airport.
As far as they know, neither one checked in.
Before he was due to depart, Charcap said that the priest phoned his father to say: ‘If you don't hear from me in 12 to 24 hours, I'm dead.”
They haven’t heard anything from Fr Kappes since, which Charcap underlined was "totally out of character" for her brother.
Fr Kappes came to Greece three years ago as a participant in a pilot programme set up by the Vatican and the government in which he and other Catholics will earn advanced degrees in Greek Orthodox theology.
A priest at St Dionysios' Church, the central Athens church where Kappes was a guest, said that while he knew Fr Kappes, he had no information one way or the other but the situation is being handled by the relevant authorities.
Fr Kappes’ family said that Lekakou lived in Koukaki, in central Athens. There was no answer at the door when the Athens News called to the address at noon on Thursday.
Neighbours were unaware of anything untoward.
Officers in Koukaki police station, located on the same street, said that had received no reports that either of the two – Kappes or Lekakou – were missing.
Nina-Maria Potts, a journalist in Washington DC, said a State Department spokesperson commented on the case on Thursday. She tweeted:
"Missing priest in Greece walked out of US embassy in Athens Oct 1st, while consular staff was talking to his family about his safety," adding that officials said he didn't ask for safe haven.
The official said that they were in touch with his family and were checking hospitals and hotels for Fr Kappes' whereabouts.
•Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Fr Christiaan (Chris) Kappes can contact his family through the Athens News (email@example.com)