SYDNEY, Australia – An Anglican leader warned Wednesday that Asia's bishops might consider cutting their ties with the U.S. Episcopal Church (search) over its appointment of its first openly gay bishop.
Other Anglican bishops said the election of Rev. Gene V. Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire could hurt the church, but differed on whether it would create a schism.
"Practicing homosexuality is culturally and legally not acceptable here," said Bishop Dr. Lim Cheng Ean, the leader of the Anglican Church of West Malaysia (search).
Lim said Southeast Asian Anglican bishops may discuss cutting ties with the U.S. church at a meeting next week, because of Robinson's appointment.
"We will be having a meeting of the bishops of the province next week. We may discuss this then and a decision may be taken then," he said.
There are four Southeast Asian dioceses — Kuching, Singapore, West Malaysia and Sabah.
In Australia, conservative Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen said the new gay bishop would not be welcome in his diocese and urged opponents in the United States to fight the decision by withholding contributions to church coffers.
"It impacts on all of us because when a branch of the church does this, its teachings become compromised."
He said the decision was the start of a "loosening of ties" within the Anglican communion.
John Dayal, vice president of All India Catholics Union (search), also slammed the decision to confirm Robinson's election.
"The election of a gay bishop is a blatant aggravation of societal norms, and in India it certainly will not be acceptable," Dayal said.
But the head of Australia's Anglican Church, Primate Peter Carnley rejected fears the decision could tear apart the Anglican community.
"I don't think it's a communion-breaking issue," said Carnley, who is considered a liberal in Australia's Anglican community.
Carnley said Robinson's appointment was likely to have a negative impact, but hoped it would spur a moral debate on homosexuality in Australia rather than a schism.
"It's an issue upon which we are divided but it's not the kind of issue that would cause us to turn our back on our Lord's teachings," Carnley told The Associated Press.
American conservatives and like-minded bishops overseas who represent millions of parishioners have said confirming Robinson would force them to consider breaking away from the church.
Melbourne's conservative Archbishop Peter Watson refused to comment on the decision, referring to an earlier statement on Robinson's pending election where he said the American church "has turned its back on our unity and must bear responsibility for the pain and disunity that will be felt throughout the Communion."
The Episcopal Church, with 2.3 million members, is the U.S. branch of the 77 million-member global Anglican Communion, which has been debating the role of gays for decades.