I converted to the Presbyterian faith from a Catholic upbringing a while back and have always wondered - but never had anyone to ask - why Catholics use "Trespassers" in the Lord's prayer (Please forgive our trespasses, as we forgive our Trespassers) and the Presbyterians use "Debtors". I'm sure someone has to have asked this question somewhere before me :-)
There's a great analysis by Dave Armstrong that goes into a lot more detail, but it comes from trying to best capture the point of the Lord's Prayer—as it's rendered in the Bible—in English.
There are two forms of the Lord's Prayer found in the Bible: one in Matthew and another in Luke.
In Matthew 6:9–13, the Lord's Prayer is rendered as (emphasis mine):
But in Luke 11:2–4, it's rendered as (emphasis mine):
Given it's more fleshed out, most Christians favor Matthew's version. In the original Greek, the word used in Matthew 6:12 is ὀφειλήματα, which means "debts". The word used in Luke 11:4 is ἁμαρτίας, which means "sins".
So, to be in line with the original manuscript, "debts" is the correct word, and indeed, most Christians (including all non-English Catholics) use "debts".
In English, however, "debts" and "debtors" usually refer to a loan: a monetary debt to a bank, for example. But later on in Matthew, it says:
So while the actual word is "debts", it's clear the point of the Lord's Prayer is to say that one ought to forgive those who wrong us, just as God forgives us our sins and transgressions, not that we ought to forgive loans made upon us (i.e., God doesn't "loan" us sins).
To make clear the point of the prayer,"debts" was replaced with "trespasses". This translation became popular in 16th century England, even making it into the Book of Common Prayer. The Roman Catholic version of the Lord's Prayer is almost identical to the Book of Common Prayer's version at the time, and has not been changed since then.
Interestingly, the English version of the Missal recently underwent a fairly dramatic change as things were retranslated to better correspond to the original meaning of words, but the Lord's Prayer was skipped. I could not find any explicit justification for the omission, which suggests to me that the Vatican still considers the use of "trespasses" to accurately convey the intent of the prayer.
Note 1: Also translated as trespasses, depending on the translation.
Being raised Catholic, I was taught trespasses vs debtors. As a child, I was also taught to use the shorter version without:
When Freemasons say the Lord's prayer we use debtors. Which was the first time I had heard it done that way. I thought that we (Freemasons) were wrong until I researched and found out that it's very plausible that debtors is the correct translation.
My research showed that John Wycliffe in 1382, debts and debtors was used. Only the Tyndale version of 1525 used trespasses. I was completely perplexed! Ultimately we probably mean something like:
But change is not something we do well :)
In line with what Mark Trapp said, please see this
This is an English translation issue, not a Protestant/Catholic issue.
Latin is the official language of the Catholic Church and the Latin says:
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris