There’s been a tendency since Vatican II to use “pastoral” to mean nuanced, qualified, soft-spoken and dialectical. The pastoral, so we’re told, recognizes the difficulty of the problem and identifies with the confusion of the one suffering it.
All this assumes that those seeking guidance never want something clear, straightforward and emphatic, though we know by experience this isn’t so. The problem is that pastoral is not a single ready-made style of discourse or rhetorical tone but a genius to adapt to one’s audience and the demands of the peculiar situation. We don’t become more pastoral by trying to sound like Gaudium et Spes but by, say, giving a close read to Gregory the Great, who has pastoral genius in a truly world-historical way. Even if one can’t give Pastoral Rule a close read, his genius is just as clear in the famous letter to Mellius, where one can see a 200 word masterpiece of nuance, clarity, psychological insight, balance, and dedication to principle.