Phra Payap Khemakuno, younger brother of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has defended his promotion to a senior title after just nine days in the monkhood in India.
He said he was appointed deputy provost because of his work to preserve Buddhism and not because of his family connections.
The rapid promotion of the newly ordained monk to "Phra Khru Palad Sampipatyanjarn," which Phra Payap claims is an ecclesiastical title, has provoked public criticism.
Religious Affairs Department director-general Preecha Gunteeya yesterday disputed Phra Payap's claim to have been given an ecclesiastical title, saying the name "Phra Khru Palad Sampipatyanjarn" was actually the monk's ordination name.
Payap Shinawatra, whose sister Yingluck is premier, was ordained at Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya in India on Feb 10, and was given the name Phra Payap Khemakuno.
Reports emerged a week later that Somdet Phra Thirayanmuni, the abbot of Debsirindhrawas Ratchaworawiharn temple in Bangkok, had promoted Phra Payap to the position of deputy provost, or phra khru palad. Phra Payap has confirmed these reports.
Speaking from India yesterday, Phra Payap, who plans to leave the monkhood on March 11, said his promotion was a special case and an acknowledgment of his work supporting Buddhism.
He regards it as being akin to receiving an honorary doctorate degree.
Mr Preecha said a monk normally would have to stay in the monkhood for at least five years and make significant contributions to the religion to be eligible for promotion to the phra khru palad title.
It is not easy for monks to be promoted to an ecclesiastical title, he said.
A source at the the National Office of Buddhism said that Phra Payap's promotion was not appropriate as he had been ordained for less than one month.