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Indiana Priest Missing Overseas UPDATED
UPDATE, 11/15 Fr. Kappes told Fox59 news that he explicitly requested help from the U.S. Embassy in Greece, which said again that he visited but did not ask for help. He told reporters that he and his translator did not board their scheduled flights to the United States because they were afraid for their lives, and instead took the first flight they could get out of the country — to Munich, where the two ended up in a psychiatry ad psychotherapy hospital. There, he said, they were asked if they thought they might be suffering from paranoia. After a week they were allowed to call home and then the Kappes family arranged for their flights. See end of original story for previous updates.
The Courier-Journal reports that Fr. Christiaan Kappes, a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianpolis, is missing from Athens, Greece, where he has been studying for three years. His family told The Indianapolis Star that he told them his translator was involved in a family dispute that had turned violent and left him a target as well, and that if they did not hear from him within 24 hours to assume that he was dead.
That was more than three days ago. According to the papers, Fr. Kappes’s family has been in touch with the FBI, Senator Rich Lugar, the Vatican Embassy, and the US Embassy in Greece. As of Thursday evening, he had not been located.
A strange account in the Indianpolis Star details beatings, threats, wire-tapping and other crimes against the translator or the priest that the Kappes family says Fr. Kappes told them about. Both were to have flown to Indianapolis on separate planes on Tuesday, the family says, but never boarded their flights.
According to the Greek Reporter web site, Fr. Kappes is in Greece as part of a pilot program set up by the Vatican and the Greek government, studying for an advanced degree in Greek Orthodox theology to further relations between the Greek Orthodox and Catholic Churches.
Family and friends are frantic, and Fox59 News in Indianapolis reports that Holy Name parish in Beech Grove (IN) held a private Mass for Fr. Kappes Thursday. Andrew Spoor of the Greater Cincinnati chapter of Una Voce, a group dedicated to promoting the Traditional Latin Mass, says Fr. Kappes has frequently said Mass for members here when home from his travels. “Please pray for the safe return of Fr. Kappes to the United States, and for the safety of his translator,” he asks.
UPDATE (10/06): According to Fox59 News, Greek media sources are verifying parts of what was reported to the Kappes family. The missing translator, Ioanna Lekakou, did visit police about threats from her family with a man answering Fr. Kappes’s description. The consulate from the US Embassy has entered the woman’s apartment, but found nothing. Virgil Kappes, Fr. Kappes’s father, has offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who can lead authorities to his son.
UPDATE (10/08): According to Greek Reporter, a Greek priest told the Kappes family that Fr. Kappes and his translator were afraid for their lives and made their Confessions before leaving for the airport. Several sources report that the FBI has been in contact with the family, and the Indianapolis Star reports confirming with the State Department that the two did visit the US Embassy on Oct. 1, and that the Greek television program Light in the Tunnel, which highlights missing persons cases, has begun an investigation.
UPDATE NOON 10/08: Family reports he is alive and in a country the FBI told them not to disclose; same for translator (whom they report is hospitalized).
UPDATE, 10/09: According to the Indianapolis Star, Fr. Kappes’s family says he and his translator are in Germany and will return to the United States soon.
UPDATE, 10/10: Citing a “bizarre” call to Fox59 News of Indianapolis from Fr. Christiaan Kappes, who disappeared from Greece where he was studying for almost a week after a call home to his family saying his life was in danger, the station reports that the family is concerned about his mental health. Reporter Kent Erdahl says that during the call, which Fr. Kappes said he made from an airport in Munich, Germany, he “detailed a bizarre assassination plot involving himself and his interpreter” and repeated what he told his father a week ago: That if no one had heard from him within 24 hours, he would be dead. Family members told Fox59 news that what he said to the station was not the same as what he told them, and that “has never acted or sounded so strange.” Yesterday the Greek Reporter said that Fr. Kappes told his family he had no idea his disappearance was in the news or that authorities were looking for him.
UPDATE 10/11: The Indianapolis Star reports that Fr. Kappes’s family is not certain that he’s in Germany, or about anything except that he seems confused and disoriented. “He just does not have his senses about him right now,” his stepmother told the newspaper. The Star also reports that while the State Department says he did consult the U.S. Embassy in Greece last week, but did not ask for shelter and left in the middle of their discussion.
UPDATE 10/12: Fr. Kappes is home in Indiana with his family, according to the Indianpolis Star, but his sister says he had gone at least two days without sleep, and had to be hospitalized briefly for chest pains and heart palpitations. Fr. Kappes and his translator flew to Indianapolis from Munich on Wednesday and are at separate locations the family is not identifying. The Star says that Bishop Coyne, Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, plans to speak with him in the future.