The Vatican’s official newspaper has issued a front-page attack on the BBC over a row surrounding the use of AD and BC to establish dates.

The L’Osservatore Romano, which functions as a mouthpiece for the Holy See, branded the corporation “anti-historical and senseless” in a withering editorial which echoes the Pope’s attack on Britain’s “aggressive secularism” when he was in the UK.

“It is by now very clear that respect for other religions is only an excuse, because those who wish to erase every trace of Christianity from Western culture are only a few secular westerners,” the paper said.

“The BBC has limited itself to changing only the description, rather than the computation of time, but in doing so, it cannot be denied that it has made a hypocritical gesture: the hypocrisy of those who pretend not to know why years began to be counted precisely from that moment.

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