In an editorial published Monday morning, a prominent Catholic newspaper endorsed the controversial movement to ordain women priests.

Calling the priesthood a "gift from God ... rooted in baptism," the National Catholic Reporter says that "barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand."

The Kansas City, Mo.-based newspaper's editorial pits it directly against the Vatican, where church leadership has strongly rejected any possibility of women being ordained, even as a small pro-ordination movement has grown and independently ordained several women in recent years.

The editorial comes weeks after the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's laicization and excommunication of Roy Bourgeois, a former American priest and peace activist who was a member of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and an outspoken supporter of the women's ordination movement in the U.S., was made public. In a Mass in 2008 in Lexington, Ky., Bourgeois participated in the ordination of a woman priest. His religious order later said that he was part of an "invalid ordination of a woman and a simulated Mass."

Denis Coday, the editor of the newspaper, said it supports Bourgeois and women's ordination activists, several of whom were shortly detained in Vatican City in October after attempting to march on the Vatican to protest its policy against ordaining women. The editorial argues that "exclusion of women from the priesthood has no strong basis in scripture or any other compelling rationale."

"In the late 1980s and early '90s, there was increased talk in church circles -- even at the bishops' conference level -- to reexamine the ban on ordaining women. At the same time, there was increasing Vatican pressure to stop such talk," said Coday. "The Vatican pressure to squelch even discussion of this issue culminated with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which tried to put the stamp of infallibility on this teaching," he said, referring to a 1994 apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II that said the church "has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women."

"Despite the Vatican's best efforts to suppress discussion of this issue, Catholics have discussed it and studied it and they have found the church's rationale unsatisfying," Coday said. "What the editorial says is that the Catholic faithful -- laypeople, theologians and perhaps even some bishops -- have studied and prayed over this issue and they have come to the conclusion that the ban on women priests must be lifted."

While the National Catholic Reporter, which has 33,000 print subscribers and a wider online reach, is known as a liberal newspaper, this is the first time it has directly challenged the Vatican and supported women's ordination in an editorial. The newspaper, which HuffPost Religion partners with to publish some of its articles, is run by lay people and not priests. Its staff does not report to the Vatican and is unlikely to suffer repercussions from church authorities for its position.

Previously, the newspaper has written that Pope John Paul II's statement that women can not be ordained is not "infallible teaching," which would mean the position could be challenged. On another issue, the newspaper has also come out supporting Catholics who are in favor of same-sex marriage legalization.

Click through the slideshow to see most and least Catholic states in the United States:

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  • Massachusetts

    44,905 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Rhode Island

    44330 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • New Jersey

    36,799 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Connecticut

    35056 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • New York

    32443 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Illinois

    28439 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • New Mexico

    28407 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Pennsylvania

    27578 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • California

    27469 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Louisiana

    26490 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Wisconsin

    25,066 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • North Dakota

    24,881 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • New Hampshire

    23,626 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Minnesota

    21,689 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Vermont

    20,503 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Nebraska

    20,414 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Delaware

    20,328 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Texas

    18,586 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Hawaii

    18,350 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • South Dakota

    18,286 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Michigan

    17,375 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Ohio

    17,272 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Nevada

    16,703 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Iowa

    16514 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Colorado

    16138 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Kansas

    14952 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Arizona

    14549 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Maryland

    14503 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Maine

    14311 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Florida

    13371 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Montana

    12898 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • District of Columbia

    12622 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Missouri

    12094 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Washington

    11664 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Indiana

    11532 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Wyoming

    10862 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Oregon

    10408 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Virginia

    8422 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Kentucky

    8291 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Idaho

    7872 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Alaska

    7162 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Georgia

    6156 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Utah

    5793 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • West Virginia

    5173 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Oklahoma

    4756 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Arkansas

    4206 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Alabama

    4198 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • North Carolina

    4121 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • South Carolina

    3929 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Mississippi

    3791 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.

  • Tennessee

    3504 Catholic adherents per 100,000 people.