Sister Jeannine Gramick (pictured) of the American gay Catholic group New Ways Ministry tells Reuters that when she brought her group of 50 gay Catholics to an audience with the Pope on Wednesday, they were not shunned as they had been before, but given prime seats with all the other groups.
Reuters describes it as 'VIP treatment'.
They told Reuters in an interview afterwards that when the group came to Rome on Catholic pilgrimages during the papacies of Francis's predecessors John Paul and Benedict, "they just ignored us."
This time, a US bishop and a top Vatican official backed their request and they sat in a front section with dignitaries and special Catholic groups. As the pope passed, they sang "All Are Welcome," a hymn symbolising their desire for a more inclusive Church.
A list of participants released by the Vatican listed "a group of lay people accompanied by a sister" but did not mention that they were a gay rights organization.
Gramick sees the move as a sign of movement within the Church.
While Pope Francis gave signs early on in his papacy that the Church would be more open to gay people, asking "who am I to judge?" at an audience with reporters, there have been no official signals from the Vatican that any policies are changing.
In fact, Francis recently endorsed Slovakia's referendum to ban gay marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, and has warned of "insidious attacks" against the family, in Manila, saying gay marriage threatens to make family "disposable."