The arrests in the Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna regions follow a six-month investigation led by detectives in Brescia into a prostitution network which used social media to put the minors in contact with potential clients.
The accused priest was named by his diocese as Diego Rota, 45, a parish priest in the village of Solza near the city of Bergamo.
“The serious charges which Don Rota is accused of have caused amazement, dismay and profound pain to the bishop and our whole community,” said monsignor Giulio Dellavite, Secretary General of the Bergamo diocese's administration.
La Stampa reported that Claudio Tonoli, a 56-year-old who suffers from HIV, was also among those arrested. He allegedly asked for unprotected sex with his victims, the newspaper said.
Four boys, aged between 16 and 17 year olds, were allegedly targetted on social media sites and given money or gifts in return for sexual intercourse, La Stampa said.
The investigation was prompted by the mother of a 16-year-old who found messages about the sexual relations on her son's mobile phone.