The Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, has started treatment for alcoholism, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Diocese of New Hampshire spokesman Mike Barwell said Robinson told clergy the news in an e-mail Monday. Barwell referred further questions Tuesday to other officials who were not immediately available to comment.

Robinson was elected bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 and confirmed by the national church, causing an upheaval not only in the Episcopal Church, but the worldwide Anglican Communion of which it is part.