On November 21, 2021, a reception was held at the Courtyard of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Moscow on the occasion of the first visit to Russia by Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bu Habib. On this day, the head of the Lebanese diplomatic department celebrated his 80th birthday.
The distinguished guest was greeted by the representative of the Patriarch of Antioch to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan Niphon of Philippopolis. Among the participants of the solemn event were Patriarchal Exarch of Western Europe, Metropolitan Anthony of Korsun and Western Europe, head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for Foreign Institutions, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps of a number of countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Tunisia, France, Greece.
"On the eve of the Independence Day of the Lebanese Republic, it is with great joy that I greet you, Your Excellency Minister A. Bu Habib, at the Representation of our Church in Moscow on behalf of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, who sends you prayerful good wishes for a successful visit," Metropolitan Niphon addressed the head of the Lebanese diplomatic department.
Welcoming the representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church present at the reception, he stressed: "We perceive your presence here with us as a blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who celebrated his 75th birthday the day before. We pray to the Lord to grant him many years."
"The main thing in the life of the Church in the world is love. The course of action of our Church in Lebanon is to live together with all religious communities, guided by the principles of patriotism, freedom, democracy and human dignity," the Antiochian hierarch stated. He recalled that according to the Constitution of this country, "there are no such concepts as majority or minority – we are all living branches of the cedar, and this unites us; these branches grow on the Lebanese water that feeds them, flowing from Lebanese springs."
Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, Deputy Chairman of the DECR, conveyed congratulations and well wishes from Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon.
Archpriest Nikolai Balashov also noted that the Russian Orthodox Church, with the participation of Russian public organizations, such as the Foundation for the Support of Christian Culture and Heritage, provides assistance to the Lebanese people in the restoration of buildings destroyed by the explosion in Beirut, in the construction of churches, in the support of church schools.