Many years of political debate have culminated in an agreement to make historic changes to Norway’s constitution (Grunnloven), weakening the relationship of church and state. (Photo: Vålerenga Church in Oslo/Carl Martin Norby)

One of the most controversial issues has been a statement in the constitution (paragraph 2) that names the Evangelical Lutheran faith as the official state religion.

As a part of the compromise announced Thursday, the seven political parties in the national parliament (Stortinget) have agreed to change the religion specification to read: "The basic values of our nation shall be our Christian and humanistic heritage."

However, in another paragraph of the constitution, The Norwegian Lutheran Church will be named as a "folk church".

It will also continue to state that the King confesses to the Evangelical Lutheran faith.

In addition, the compromise grants the Church the right to appoint bishops and deans, although they will still be state employees. (In the current selection process, the Church submits candidates to the government, which makes the final decision.)

The compromise also includes provisions for the Church of Norway to carry out a "democratic reform" to give church members more influence in church matters.The constitutional changes require a two-third majority in Parliament and are expected to pass in 2012.