The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said that the possible split in the Anglican Communion due to "profound disagreement" over homosexuality would set a bad example for the world.

"A schism would not be a disaster. ... God is bigger than our failures, but it would be a failure," Welby told BBC Radio 4's "Today" program.

"It would not be good if the Church is unable to set an example to the world of showing how we can love one another and disagree profoundly, because we are brought together by Jesus Christ, not by our own choice."

Welby made the comments ahead of a widely awaited meeting of world Anglican leaders, which has been overshadowed by bishops from Asia and Africa threatening to walk out over disagreements on issues regarding homosexuality.

While the Church of England remains opposed to gay marriage, the Episcopal Church in America, for instance, has developed more liberal views on the issue, and in 2003 consecrated Canon Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican world.

On the other hand of the scale, a number of Anglican bishops represent countries where homosexuality remains a punishable crime, and they have protested against Western leaders trying to influence their cultures to change.

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