UPDATE – May 26, 2016: Rather than write a new post, I wanted to add new information to this one. As it stands, a Google search for “Anthony Perlas” or “Anthony Tridentine” returns this article as the top result. It is the best place, therefore, for an update.
A couple months ago, I received word from two individuals who had been engaging with Anthony “Tridentine” Perlas behind the scenes. They told me that he had begun to understand the damage he’s done, and is no longer trying to represent the Latin Mass nor have any professional connection to the Catholic Church. I was also told that he had taken down the pornographic and Aryan/Nazi fetish materials from his Facebook page.
This was, as it turned out, only partially true. Anthony had taken down some of the materials, but a quick glance at his Instagram page showed that it certainly wasn’t all gone. Then he gave up the “Latin Mass Society” name and changed his page name to “Seroptics Models” — a derivative of the “Seraphim” he believes he is in contact with, called “Seroptia.” I’m not going to link to it, because it’s filled, as you might expect, with inappropriate material. On January 28, 2016, the page featured a status update that read:
We’ve heard your feedback, listened and we’ve got a solution! We’re rebranding for February and sticking solely as a secular non-religiousmodeling agency.
Beauty and Wisdom and the four pillars of joy, creativity, self-determination and a judgement a free world still remains.
Most of the posts showing women in chapel veils were deleted. Before long, they were replaced by lingerie shoots and partial nudity, both in the form of videos and still photos. It was a sudden and disturbing shift toward depravity.
Last night, I got a message from someone who had found the article below. They claimed to have had some interactions with Anthony, who now does his photography in Michigan and Ohio. This person, who self-identifies as non-religious and “progressive,” nonetheless said they find Anthony’s work “inappropriate”. They said that he is misrepresenting himself as a photographer for Victoria’s Secret and Vogue, and also as a modeling agency. This individual has expressed their concerns about these and some other odd behaviors, as well with the influence Anthony apparently has over some of the young women he is photographing. So far, these concerns have fallen on deaf ears. This individual then sent me the following screenshot of a Perlas “project”:
It seems clear that Anthony has continued along the disturbing trajectory we first documented last October. He is a young man very much in need of prayers, as are the young women who fall under his sway. If you are reading this article because he has contacted you or is working with you in some capacity and you are trying to find out more about him, please be very careful.
The original post follows the page break.
This is a post I’ve been putting off writing. It’s a troubling story, and one I doubt will reach a happy conclusion. I must urgently warn Catholics to steer clear of the so-called “Latin Mass Society” and Anthony Perlas (a.k.a. “Anthony Tridentine”). Despite the good that they once appeared to be doing for the Latin Mass, they have no official affiliation with Ecclesia Dei, Una Voce, any official Latin Mass associations (like the excellent Latin Mass Society of England and Wales), or the FSSP. And they are now involved in some very disturbing activities – including but not limited to the production of pornography.
If you want to know more, there’s something of a personal connection here, so please bear with me while I give you some backstory. I’ve done my best to document what I can.
In February of this year, I was looking for some photography to use in an article about the practice of women’s veiling when I came across the work of a young photographer named Anthony Perlas. Perlas runs a website called the Latin Mass Society. His work included both photos and videos, and featured attractive young women wearing chapel veils, all shot in a contemporary style that showed a talent and understanding of the craft. I put a premium on aesthetics in the images we use, so this appealed to me. Thinking back on it now, there was something about his style prickled at the back of my brain. Some of his images almost made the young women in veils come across as…sexy. But it at the time, the effect was relatively subtle, and I chalked it up to the influence of the sort of secular media culture that, for better or worse, tends to produce higher-quality visuals than most Catholic outlets do.
I wound up publishing my article before Anthony and I were able to connect. But once we made contact, he told me he was interested in having me as a guest on his Google Hangouts series, the Latin Rosary Online. “Michael Voris amongst Gail Buckley and other public figures such as best selling catholic Author Dr. John Acquaviva has also participated,” he said.
1P5 was still fairly new, and it seemed like it might be a good opportunity for exposure, so I agreed to do the program.
At the scheduled time, I was brought into a Hangouts session by a young woman named Kristina, who was introduced to me as the “host” of the program. I immediately noticed that she wasn’t dressed for a traditional Catholic video podcast. She wearing pajama pants and a tight spaghetti strap tank top. I’ve chosen a relatively innocuous screenshot from the video, but you can see that her attire was surprisingly revealing, considering the venue.
She was a perfectly pleasant person to deal with. As someone who has had countless battles with my own (college-age) daughter about modesty, I’m never all that surprised when young women are unaware of the effect of immodest clothing. After all, the culture is decidedly working against them. But I also didn’t think there was any way she was going on camera like that – at least, not with an FSSP priest on the line. (Fr. James Fryar was the clerical guest – we’ll get back to him in a minute.) At first, I thought Kristina must have just been the tech person who got things set up. As things progressed, however, I realized she was going to be on with us. Anthony was dressed in a shirt and tie. Fr. Fryar was in his Roman Collar. I was wearing a collared shirt. One of these things was not like the others.
Still, having never done a Google Hangouts session before, I assumed maybe she wouldn’t be on screen. Maybe she had control of the camera and would be voice-only. When you’re in a Google Hangout session, the camera switches automatically to the person who is talking, so it’s hard to say for sure what you’re going to see in the final recording when you’re not used to it.
In the end, she was on screen a lot. Nobody said anything about it. Not Anthony, not Fr. Fryar, and not me. We all had a worthwhile conversation, though, and like an idiot, I went ahead and posted the video to the 1P5 Facebook page, assuming that perhaps the quality of the content would make up for the visual distraction.
It was a dumb move on my part. I got a lot of negative feedback from readers, and with good reason. I had made a poor choice. So I pulled the video. I sent an explanatory note to Kristina, apologizing that for not addressing it at the time:
I feel like I did you a disservice. At first, I wasn’t sure how the hangout worked and which screens would be shared. After, I couldn’t find a polite way to tell you that you were exposing too much.
I have a daughter, as I mentioned, who is almost 18. It’s hard for me to tell her, too. It’s uncomfortable. But as a guy, these things are a big distraction, and certainly not what one would expect from a Latin Mass Society interview involving an FSSP priest.
So I want to apologize to you for not saying something. I should have. I wound up having to take the link down because of the complaints I was getting. People can be uncharitable in their criticisms, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
I enjoyed the hangout last night. I hope we will have another, more fruitful opportunity to do it again.
I then sent a note to Anthony along the same lines:
I honestly thought this was the end of it. And for the most part, it was. I never heard back from Kristina. Anthony wrote to me once to ask if he could contact my daughter as a potential model. (At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, and figured she would say no. I was right – she ignored his request. And I’m very glad she did.) We didn’t interact again until I heard that he’d moved from Los Angeles to Detroit and taken a job with Church Militant. When I saw him post that it hadn’t worked out after only a few weeks, I reached out to him. He didn’t want to talk about it.
Then, someone sent me this post from the official “Latin Mass Society” page:
If you can’t read the text, it says:
The Latin Mass Society never runs from their enemies. It is here that we shall make our stand until our last dying breathe. All the nations of the earth shall see the power and glory of the Seroptia. There is no creation more powerful than the highest of all angels whom we possess. Modeling and Catholicism shall be infused into one flawless medium. I hereby place my hand unto the Great Seal of Seroptia and authorize and establish hedge protection on Jenelle and all our models and render her works as good in Jesus’s name. All negativity shall be returned to where they came from and you are bounded by the Great Seal of Seroptia with the intercession of the Blessed Mary Ever A Virgin. The saints command you to obey. Father commands you to obey. Our lady commands you to obey. Our models are now wrapped in her mantle and as her property. The Holy Ghost shall bring warmth with its tender loving presence and thou shall be discorded and unhappy you envious enemy. Kneel and be crushed by the heel of the Immaculate Virgin foul creature and haters who blaspheme Gods precious Angels who are meant to know, love and serve Him and who seek Him yet you cause division to turn our models away from God. You’re stripped off all your interferences and you are powerless.
As someone who has been through more than a few rounds of spiritual warfare, this set off every red flag. I wrote to Anthony. I asked him what it meant. He became immediately defensive and said he didn’t want to answer questions on the record. (I didn’t agree to that request.) I asked him about “Seroptia.” What is it? Where’d he get that from? He told me it was the guardian angel of the Latin Mass Society. I asked him how he knows that’s the name of an angel. “Revelation brother,” he said. “Through prayer.”
He asked me strange questions like, “Are we still on the same team?” I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about, but that I was concerned. Specifically about demonic influence. A bit later in our conversation, it got weirder:
Comparing both of our conversations on this topic — the one in March, and the one in September — there’s a marked difference in tone. There was no intervening conversation about this. I had no idea in any way that my concerns about the video were in any way upsetting to him.
Our Facebook conversation continued like this for the better part of an hour. He was elusive. He kept saying he was going to block me, and that I could only contact him by email. He said my statements were “defamatory at best.” He said he was appealing to atheists. “We use modernism to appeals [sic] to modernism. But still maintain the substance of traditionalism.” He brought up the fact that people said he was sexualizing religion, then denied it. “The point is beauty not sex.” He said. “A 2 year old will never see sex on this. And we are children of God. … Sanctifying Grace makes you a two year old.”
I warned him that he was playing with fire. I told him that his style was becoming more provocative, but more to the point, that he should seek the guidance of an exorcist. I recommended the prayers of the Auxilium Christianorum. At the end of the conversation, I thought we had established some rapport, but he still blocked me from any further contact on Facebook.
And despite the disturbing tenor of the discussion, I thought I’d heard the end of it.
Then I was tagged in yet another post, this time warning me that Anthony was now involved in pornographic photo shoots.
I will post first his justification, then a screenshot someone else took (cropped to remove the most explicit parts of the image) of what kind of photography he is now doing. Even cropped, the image could be provocative to some, so I will only post a link, rather than putting the image in-line. I’ve chosen to include it because some have questioned whether what he is producing is simply risque, rather than actually pornographic.
Now, one of the (cropped/censored) photos from the shoot. (Though edited to remove nudity, click the link at your own discretion.) You will note that while the wording is changed, it bears the same logo as the Latin Mass Society images:
If that wasn’t enough, he has also been making references to Nazism and racial purity – pretty weird fare for a (naturally) dark-haired, brown-eyed kid from (if I recall) the Philippines. To give an example, there’s this blog post on the Latin Mass Society page from July, in which he says:
Then there’s this Facebook post, from September, in which he quotes Hitler and mentions that his German model is a “perfect mold for this restoration and revolution”:
Finally, just today there is a post asking what he should be for Halloween – with one of the options an “SS Ninja Soldier of God.” (You’ll note that he now has bleached-blonde hair coming out of that ninja mask, as opposed to what he used to look like on the right.)
The FSSP have disassociated themselves from him in a letter, written by Fr. James Fryar. (Fr. Fryar, as I mentioned, was also a guest on the Latin Mass Rosary hangout I attended.) The letter gives some history of how Perlas came to be in possession of the “Latin Mass Society” moniker when he was a student at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, which he has now kept as a personal brand. Father’s attempts to help Anthony have, like mine, also been rebuffed:
Fr. Z has also written to warn readers about him. As have some other bloggers. There are troubling Yelp reviews of his photography services. There have been incessant warnings posted about him on Facebook in various Latin Mass groups.
Perlas has continued to close ranks. He has now released this strangely edited and repetitive video, in which he appears to have just let the camera run through multiple takes of a model issuing unscripted defenses of him, of the Latin Mass Society, of girls who want to be in Maxim, and of her own desire to do “sexier” photoshoots. These are edited together in a series of jump cuts, often reiterating parts of the same message in each segment. The video ends abruptly with the model cut off in mid-sentence, then switches to the standard closing quasi-chant recording of the St. Michael prayer used in his other, much more high-quality videos. The effect is a little unnerving.
Even with all of this information making the rounds, the Latin Mass Society Facebook page has nearly five thousand fans. It seems clear that many faithful Catholics do not yet realize that this has become his own personal version of whatever it is he believes in. My fear is that he continues to go down stranger paths, and that some young woman is lured into sin, or worse. Some have suggested that it’s beginning to look like a sex cult.
I was on the line with Perlas for over an hour during that hangout, and he was a nice kid, but not a smooth talker. Still, he seems to have some sort of appeal, and an ability to get young women to want to pose for his camera. Evidently, he’s also figured out how to get them to take off their clothes. I only know of one pornographic photoshoot, but there’s no reason to believe it will be the last.
Be aware of the dangers here. Disassociate yourself with their Facebook page. Unfollow him on Twitter and Instagram. Warn your parishes about him, especially if you’re in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area where he now resides. Now is as good a time as any to remind your daughters that just because a guy looks like he has solid Catholic bona fides doesn’t mean he is to be trusted. In my experience, that’s a message that can’t be repeated to our girls often enough.
And please, pray for this young man and his models. I don’t think he started out with bad intentions. Something has changed in him since I first interacted with him seven months ago. Something drastic and tragic. He still thinks he is honoring God, but his idea of God has become warped into a mockery of what is holy.
Virgin Most Powerful, Pray for Us!
Holy Angels and Archangels, defend us and guard us, Amen.
UPDATE (10/31/2015): At the request of Kristina, the young woman who hosted the Latin Rosary Online described above, I have obscured her face in the screen capture. She has been asked about her involvement in Anthony’s activities several times by those who have recognized her in this post, and since she is no longer involved does not wish for her image to be perceived as an endorsement of what he is doing.
Also, Diane Korzeniewski of the blog Te Deum Laudamus says that she has “learned that an internal advisory has gone out to priests in the Archdiocese of Detroit about the activities of Anthony Perlas in the metro Detroit area. I’m also hearing word is traveling among priests now in this area by phone and other means to make sure everyone is aware of the situation. His social media postings show that he has also been quite active in Ann Arbor, Jackson, Lansing and some other communities that would fall within the Lansing Diocese. He was previously in LA for a brief period and resided in North Carolina.”
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.